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By LYDIA EARHART lee003@latech


Enrollment for this fall has decreased by 99 students and graduate school enrollment is also down slightly.

Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau said enrollment is impacted by the students who were in the schools that are still closed due to Hurricane Katrina.

Tech also has a lot of students that could not return for the same reason.

“I think we have a very solid enrollment right now,” Reneau said. “I’m very pleased with enrollment. To me the numbers are not the big thing. It is the qualified retention rates and graduation rates.”

Reneau said he expected enrollment to be down about 300 students because of selective admissions.

“I thought we would probably drop around 200 in first-time freshmen, but we didn’t drop that much, thank goodness,” Reneau said.

“We have been having the largest graduation classes two years in a row and that takes some students out.”

Reneau said he is pleased with the first-time freshman class.

“We have the best prepared freshman class in the history of the university,” Reneau said.

Reneau said Tech has not had a large decrease in students.

“Hopefully freshmen enrollment will stabilize about where it is,” Reneau said. “We have to seek more students. The population of Louisiana high school students is declining at a fairly rapid rate.” 

Reneau said it is hard to say whether displaced students will stay at Tech.

“With a situation like this it is hard to say if students will stay or not,” Reneau said.

“We are not going to try and rob other schools of their students. We want students at Tech because they want to be here, and they are looking for a quality education.” 

Pamela Ford, dean of enrollment management, said while the number of the students has declined, the quality has increased.

“In terms of quality versus quantity, I think we are very pleased,” Ford said.

“I think it translates to stay in school and graduate and become productive citizens, which is what Tech is all about.”

Ford said some of the loss was due to the selective admission standards added this fall quarter.

Ford said she was worried about last year’s students and their ability to come back.

The impact of the hurricane was not as devastating to enrollment as it could have been.

“[Reneau] was targeting a bigger loss,” Ford said. “If prospective students and their families visit this campus, there is about an 80 percent likelihood they will enroll at Tech.”

Dr. Terry McConathy, executive vice president and dean of the graduate school, said graduate school enrollment is down two percent from last year for masters and doctorate students.

“For the reduction in international students, I think we are doing remarkably well,” McConathy said.

“We always like to improve our enrollment. If you look at some of the figures around the nation, our decrease is small related to other schools,” McConathy said. 

She also said other schools have lost international enrollment up to 40 percent.

“Overall we have gained about 350 students, but very few of them are graduate students,” McConathy said. “I think it’s a glass half full, half empty situation. I prefer to look at enrollment as the glass half full because the quality has improved and so has the competition.”

Ashley Wilkinson, a sophomore elementary education major, said she is happy to be a Tech student.

“I came here because Tech has a good reputation and a friendly campus atmosphere,” Wilkinson said. “The campus is always so welcoming.”

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