Southeastern headed for another record-setting freshman enrollment
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND -- Southeastern Louisiana University is on track to enroll another record-breaking freshman class this fall semester, university officials announced today.
Last fall, nearly 3,000 new freshmen enrolled at the north shore university, the largest freshman class in Southeastern’s history. While some speculated that the record freshmen enrollment was attributed to students displaced to the north shore as a result of Hurricane Katrina, this year's anticipated repeat record suggests a more permanent trend, said Stephen Soutullo, dean of Enrollment Management at Southeastern.
University officials attribute the back-to-back record freshman classes to long-term trends developing long before the arrival of Katrina.
"At the start of the fall semester in 2005 before the hurricane, we had enrolled our largest freshman class ever, and we were the only four-year institution in Louisiana projecting an enrollment increase in new freshmen," said Soutullo. "Although we had instituted admission standards in the fall of 2000, like most other universities in Louisiana we were further increasing admission requirements in fall 2005. We had made extraordinary recruiting efforts to get the word out about our exceptional academic programs, as well as the student-oriented environment here at Southeastern."
Despite the successful start to the 2005 academic year, Southeastern had nearly 2,000 students resign as a result of Katrina. In the weeks following the storm, the school also hosted nearly that many visiting students from south shore institutions that were forced to close for extended periods.
"It was a challenging semester for the institution and many of the students," said President Randy Moffett. "Less than 1,000 of the 2,000 students who resigned from Southeastern following Katrina have ever returned; likewise, only a relatively modest number of the visiting students continued their education here as transfer students.”
Despite the hurricane-related disruptions, enrollment at Southeastern has continued to grow. "The extraordinary number of new students coming here clearly seems to reflect both the strong economic and population growth in our service region as well as increased interest in our institution and academic programs, particularly among academically well prepared students," said Moffett.
By last year's Aug. 15 deadline, Southeastern received nearly 5,500 new student applications. "That target was passed months ago," said Soutullo. "This year's application deadline was moved up to Aug. 1 in order to allow us to better serve our student applicants. Despite the earlier deadline, student applications for this fall are well ahead of last year's final level."
The I-12 corridor along the north shore is riding an unprecedented long-term growth trend, Moffett pointed out.
"Southeastern is at the heart of the fastest-growing region of Louisiana," he said. "We are committed to providing exemplary educational and outreach services to this region. We've added a number of new degree programs and concentrations in recent years, and we anticipate adding several more in the months ahead. We've also significantly stepped up outreach activities, such as providing business and economic development assistance through our Southeast Louisiana Business Center. Southeastern's mission is to lead the educational, economic and cultural development of southeast Louisiana, and our faculty and staff are committed to doing exactly that."
Southeastern will host its final freshman orientation program Aug. 13-14. Fall semester classes begin on Monday, Aug. 20.