Youngstown State far surpasses Kent State in enrollment growth

Kate Bigam

Nearby Youngstown State University leads Ohio’s public universities in enrollment growth, according to data from the Ohio Board of Regents.

In the past six years, Youngstown State’s enrollment has grown by 11.8 percent — nearly 9 percent more than Kent State’s enrollment growth in the same time period.

In a press release from the university, Youngstown State President David Sweet addressed the drastic enrollment increase.

“YSU’s leadership in enrollment is a reflection of our commitment to making higher education more accessible and increasing educational attainment levels in Northeast Ohio and the state,” he said.

Of the public universities’ whose student enrollments increased, Kent State ranks second to last with a 2.9 percent increase — just edging out the neighboring University of Akron’s 2.4 percent growth.

Still, Kent State is better off than the three universities that saw a decrease in student enrollment from 2000 to 2006. According to a report from the Ohio Board of Regents, Toledo, Miami and Cleveland State all experienced negative growth.

Although Ohio’s enrollment levels are below average, Bret Crow, assistant director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents, said the state is on track with the governor’s commission’s report on higher education in the economy, which calls for an increase in Ohio universities’ enrollment throughout the next 10 years.

“We definitely want to see as many Ohioans become as educated as possible,” Crow said. “Anything campuses can do to promote higher education is great.”

Youngstown State senior Jason Madeline said the school’s enrollment increase reflects well on its ability to attract students with its respected professors and quality education.

“It says that we’re a very popular school,” said Madeline, a music education major who chose Youngstown State because of its proximity to his hometown of Boardman. “In terms of closeness and easy access to the community, YSU has a great location.”

Chuck Rickard, associate vice president for enrollment services, said Kent State is continually developing new recruitment strategies. Next fall, recruitment efforts to Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey will be made.

“We have an enrollment-driven budget, so it’s imperative that we continue to work diligently to increase that budget,” Rickard said.

However, Crow said some state universities have seen smaller-than-desirable enrollment increases for reasons beyond their control.

“A few schools around the state have their enrollment levels capped so they can’t grow beyond a certain point,” Crow said. “So those are going to grow to a certain point and then, you know, they can’t grow anymore.”

According to a state statute, five public universities’ main campus enrollment levels are limited. Kent State, Bowling Green, Miami, Ohio University and Ohio State all fall under the statute, although all five schools saw enrollment growth throughout the past five years.

Kent State’s main campus enrollment limit is 22,000, although official statistics released by the division of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness reported the Kent Campus’s Fall 2006 enrollment at 22,697 students.

Contact enterprise reporter Kate Bigam at [email protected].


Enrollment increases among state schools since 2000:

• Youngstown State 11.8 percent

• Wright State 11 percent

• Ohio State 8.1 percent

• Bowling Green 5.5 percent

• Cincinnati 4.9 percent

• Ohio University 4.1 percent

• Kent State 2.9 percent

• Akron 2.4 percent

• Toledo – .06 percent

• Miami – 3.1 percent

• Cleveland State – 6.1 percent