Tuscarawas campus hits record student enrollment, creates trend

Abby Laner

Kent State Tuscarawas continues to grow – in buildings and in enrollment.

Fall 2006 marked the highest enrollment in campus history with 2,021 students, but Spring 2007 is not far behind. This semester the total enrollment is 1,871, which is the second highest spring semester in campus history and an 8.5 percent increase from Spring 2006. Overall, average enrollment has increased 77 percent since 1995.

“We have been rigorously recruiting students from all over the area by using postcards, phone calls and e-mail alerts,” said Jennifer West, Tuscarawas campus admissions counselor.

Other admissions events throughout the school year have contributed to the high enrollment figures. Information nights are held once a semester in the university’s main hall. The November event attracted more than 250 prospective students and garnered about 60 applications for the campus. The event included a campus tour, student success speakers and informational sessions with faculty members.

“The campus is quite the happening place this year as compared to the previous three years I have been here,” junior English major Jodi Hughley said. “I have even noticed longer lines in the cafeteria and book stores, too.”

Various campus events have been created to meet the needs of the traditional student.

“In the past we had quite a bit of non-traditional students, but as we see an increase in traditional students, we have added more activities and student life,” said Agnes Swigart, interim director of Enrollment Management and Student Services.

The university hosted an outdoor festival in the fall called Fall Fest. The event featured games, food vendors, prizes and a beer garden. Also, first week activities for fall and spring semesters have included hot dog eating contests, karaoke nights, give-aways and performances by the Dover High School Steel Band.

“I think with all the new events on campus, as well as new programs being offered, enrollment is going to continue to go up,” West said.

Tuscarawas campus currently offers 19 associate degree programs, six bachelor’s degree programs and a master’s degree in technology. The university recently added its newest degree: veterinary technology.

“The vet tech program is the first of its kind in our corner of the state, so students are very interested in it,” Swigart said.

Swigart also said students can complete about half of their degree at the regional campus before moving to the Kent campus. The campus continues to offer postsecondary options for students who are ready to get a jump start in their college careers.

West said the postsecondary enrollment numbers at the university are increasing. This spring 186 high school students are enrolled in postsecondary classes at the campus. She also said the number of available scholarships tends to attract students.

“We offer over $200,000 in scholarships to students, so it makes the tuition, which is already lower than the Kent campus, more manageable,” West said.

Community involvement is another reason for the continued success at Tuscarawas campus. Partnerships with local organizations have helped make the campus a visible landmark in Tuscarawas County.

“I believe our reputation for quality education and quality faculty, as well as our emphasis on student services, really says a lot,” Swigart said. “We are very community orientated and have a development task force that keeps the community needs in mind at all times.”

Associate English professor John Jewell said he has seen a steady growth in the population of students, and it has resulted in a gradual increase in the size of full-time faculty members. He also said the campus atmosphere is appealing to many students.

“It’s a cozy, friendly place, where students, faculty, administrators and staff all know one another on a first-name basis,” Jewell said. “So, the hallway chatter ranges from ‘Hey, how’d you do on that test’ to ‘Hey, have you taught your puppy not to pee on the carpet yet?’ – I like that.”

The university hopes to reach out to the community even more with the development of the Fine and Performing Arts Center. The center will feature a 1,000-seat theater and will be used by the university and members of the community.

“The new building definitely has an effect on the enrollment figures,” West said. “It is giving us the opportunity to offer new programs and services to students.”

West said the increase in enrollment is making the campus stand out among the regional campuses of Kent.

“I think people are starting to not view us as just a ‘branch’ of the campus, but as a major part of Kent State University,” West said.

Contact regional campus reporter Abby Laner at [email protected].