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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

NMU enrollment numbers on the rise

Campus sees growth in several diverse student populations and hands-on programs.
Ryley Wilcox
RISING NUMBERS — Fall semester enrollment numbers are recovering after the COVID-19 pandemic. Graphic by Ryley Wilcox

Enrollment data for the 2023 fall semester shows overall growth in enrollment at the university in several key areas. 

According to 10th-day census data, 7,197 students attend NMU, a 3.3% increase from last fall semester in which 6,970 students attended. 

This total breaks down to 6,584 undergraduate students — a 2.3% increase — and 613 graduate students — a 14.4% increase.

NMU President Brock Tessman suggests that the enrollment growth is due to the large class of incoming freshman of 1,542 students, which is an increase of 9.6% from last fall.

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“That incoming class is an important starting point, but the thing that defines enrollment most is our ability to connect with students [and] establish for them a sense of belonging [and] give them a good academic experience, so that they stay and complete their degree,” Tessman said.

The number of graduate students of color enrolled at NMU has risen by 24%, and the Hispanic/Latinx population on campus has risen by nearly 11%. The number of global campus students has also increased by 46%.

“We did see a pretty big uptick in what’s defined as our Hispanic student population and that’s really exciting because I think that if you develop a really active, vibrant identity group, no matter what it is on campus, then prospective students can see themselves in the campus when they come to visit or when they’re considering the campus, and that can be an important draw,” Tessman said.

Tessman added that NMU has seen an increase in the LGBTQ+ community on campus. However, sexuality and gender identity are not included as demographic indicators in census data. 

“I think we have a very strong LGBTQ+ community on this campus, I sense that it’s growing,” Tessman said. “I look for opportunities to support that group of students as much as possible.” 

Two programs on campus show notable increases this semester. The number of undergraduate students in the health and human performance (HHP) department has grown by 8.8%, with the number of graduate students in that department growing by 32.5%. The college of technology and occupational sciences undergraduate program has grown by 9.3%.  

“Our most popular programs are programs that tend to emphasize hands-on learning,” Tessman said. “Many human beings like to touch and feel and see and live the learning that they’re going through, and I think that’s the case for some of our most popular programs.”

A place for improvement Tessman notes is the number of Indigenous students enrolled at NMU, which decreased by 3.3% from last fall semester.  

“Increasing the number of Native American students, Indigenous-identifying students, on this campus is a top priority. It seems like we have a special responsibility there,” Tessman said. “We have lots of students who are interested in a Northern education but are not interested in uprooting their family or leaving their community or spending two to four years here in Marquette on our campus, so it’s our job to step off our campus and try to meet communities where they are.”

Another area for improvement, Tessman suggests, is reaching out to prospective students from within Marquette County, specifically the West End communities of Negaunee and Ishpeming. The number of students from these areas decreased by 1.4% from last fall.

“There [are] little gaps of green in between our three communities, but really I consider us to be one big community,” Tessman said. “It’s sometimes possible for an organization to overlook things that are in its own backyard, and I feel like we could do more to express how sincerely we are invested in the West End.”

Tessman shared that he was surprised by the enrollment data but views this growth positively.

“I didn’t expect numbers to be as strong as they were this fall,” Tessman said. “I believe in what we do, and the more students we can connect to Northern, the better, because I believe in the value of the Northern experience.”

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About the Contributor
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox, News Editor
I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able to learn more about writing and collect some new passions from the stories I have covered. I have always been a learner who was curious to know more about everything and figure out how things worked, which I have been able to do in my time at the North Wind. In my remaining time in college and on staff, I cannot wait to learn even more and find some new passions along the way.