Enrollment drops for sixth straight year

Joe Rowles

Northern Michigan University’s enrollment has decreased for the sixth straight year, dropping by an unexpected 423 students according to a 10 day enrollment report released Wednesday, Sept. 9.

“We anticipated a noticeable decline based on the enrollment challenges Northern and many other institutions are facing,” Steve Neiheisel, vice president for enrollment management and student services, said in a press release. “While we budgeted for a smaller decrease, final numbers are below the budget levels and we will have to implement some additional cost-saving measures across campus.”

The total headcount of undergraduate and graduate students is 8,169, a decrease of roughly five percent from last year’s figure.

Part of the problem appears to be that families are leaving the Midwest, former Dean of the college of Arts and Sciences Terry Seethoff said.

“You have to have an increasing share of an ever decreasing population,” Seethoff said. “It’s not impossible, but a challenge.”

While the numbers seem daunting, Steven VandenAvond, vice president of extended learning and community engagement, said there is little reason for concern.

“We’ve engaged five [high] schools in six different courses,” VandenAvond said. “We plan on adding more in the spring.

“Those numbers aren’t reflected in the tenth day numbers because these students enroll later because of the late start of high schools.”

Students like Omari Rouse however, remain concerned about the effect of dwindling numbers.

The senior industrial technologies major said he had a required class cut at the last minute over the summer.

“I had to rush to find another course to stay full time, so I could still graduate,” Rouse said.

In a phone interview VandenAvond remained optimistic.

“It’s not as scary as it looks,” VandenAvond said.

Neiheisel said in the press release that NMU is also launching an innovative referral program for students and alumni and other marketing outreach efforts with plans to significantly increase the prospect and applicant pool of students for Fall 2016.

“This is our turnaround year,” Neiheisel said in an interview with the North Wind. “It has to be.”

Contributing: Hallie Sutton