St. Ambrose University’s enrollment has stabilized in an intentional move aimed at responding to the concerns of its neighbors after a decade of growth by the Davenport college.
Enrollment figures announced Monday show a total of 2,813 undergraduate students this fall, along with 850 graduate students. Those numbers compare with 2,885 undergraduate and 844 graduate students in the fall of 2009.
“Our fall report is showing the results of deliberate work over the past several years to stabilize our enrollment numbers and student body size,” said James Loftus, vice president for enrollment management and students services.
“While St. Ambrose’s growth over the past decade has most certainly benefited the community,” he said, “we are now focused on building strong neighborhood relations, providing facilities that meet the expectations and needs of our current students, and increasing retention and diversity.”
The university’s neighbors have complained about a lack of parking around the campus as well as rowdy parties. The university has held neighborhood meetings to address issues and update neighbors about its plans.
“We want to maintain that good feeling of a small, yet dynamic university,” Loftus said.
Meanwhile, the university’s numbers show an increase in diversity and retention measured by the percentage of freshman students who return for their sophomore year. Self-identified minority students in the freshman class increased from 9.4 percent to 12.5 percent. Overall, undergraduate diversity numbers increased from 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent.
“We appreciate the global society which we live in and are immersed in the ability for people to learn more and be part of a more diverse experience,” Loftus said. “Diversity makes all experiences richer for everyone. We want to understand why we’re all here and what we’re working toward.”
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In order to increase retention, the university has set up programs such as the Urban Plunge, Loftus said, where freshman students go out and do activities in the community and reflect on them. They also have the opportunity to take co-related classes, where different courses center on a common theme.
Antonio Raya, a freshman from East Moline, said he looked at several colleges and universities before deciding on St. Ambrose. “I liked the family atmosphere it has. Everybody says ‘hi’ on the sidewalks. It’s a place where I felt I could excel academically, spiritually and even as a person.”
Raya said he is glad the university is increasing its diversity numbers. “Diversity is a good thing,” he said.