NMU enrollment numbers continue to fall

Number of students in several academic departments grow


Photo courtesy of NMU

ENROLLMENT – NMU’s enrollment dashboard shows a total enrollment of 6,970 students, as of Sept. 12, 2022.

Ryley Wilcox and Jackie Phillips

Enrollment data for Fall 2022 semester shows overall student enrollment is still dropping for first time freshman enrolling in the university following the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, however the number of Asian students enrolled at the university has increased. 

In the fall semester of 2021, 1,491 first time freshmen enrolled at NMU. In the fall semester of 2022, this number dropped down to 1,407 first time freshmen that enrolled at the university. The number of Asian students enrolled at NMU has increased over the last year from 52 students to 63 students.

This downward trend in enrollment has been seen all across the country, especially in rural institutions like NMU, said Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Stephen Young. Additionally at NMU, enrollment data suggests that the number of students from the Lower Peninsula is flattening, with the number of students from the Upper Peninsula declining.

“It’s concerning to me,” Young said. “Because we’re in the U.P. we have a mission to educate students from wherever they come from, but particularly in the region at a regionally comprehensive university, and we need to do a better job there.”

With enrollment numbers declining, various departments have seen a growth in numbers within the past year. The College of Health Sciences and Professional studies has seen an increase in enrollment, in the fall 2021 semester 334 students were enrolled in the program, which has gone up to 348 students in the fall of 2022. Native American studies have grown from 16 students in the fall of 2021 to 24 students in the fall of 2022. 

The College of Business grew from 686 students to 710 students and the College of Technical and Occupational Sciences grew from 408 students to 440. 

“A lot of it depends on what’s going on out in the real world right now and the technical and occupational sciences is a good example,” Young said. “If you look at our construction management school, their program has 100% placement. They are graduating kids and they can pretty much get a job wherever they want.”

In the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses 17 departments, five of these departments have grown. Between fall 2021 and fall 2022, the Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences department and the Communication and Media Studies department each gained 20 students, and the History department gained 11 students. The Theatre and Dance department gained 6 students, with the Sociology and Anthropology department gaining 1 student.  

The drop in enrollment numbers will show to have an effect on both the Marquette community as well as the NMU community, Young says.  

“One of the things as Chair of the Board that I’ve tried to do is make sure that we’re more active with the community and invest in some of these other organizations,” Young said. “Unless we all work together, we’re going to have problems at the University if it continues to get smaller and smaller.”

The Board and President Brock Tessman’s main priority is reversing these numbers, according to Young.

“I would just say that at the very top, that is the number one priority,” Young said. “You are going to see a lot of stuff hopefully coming out aimed at trying to reverse those numbers.”

One of these plans is offering physical and mental health services to the campus community. 

“As a university we need to provide mental health services to students that are in need,” Young said. “We have the new Wellness Center opening up here in the not too distant future where we’re going to have all of that under one roof.”