A record number of first-time freshmen began classes at Park University on Monday, Aug. 14. The school’s fall enrollment totaled 9,510 students, a 5.2 percent increase since last year.
Enrollment on Park’s historic Parkville, Mo. campus increased 12.3 percent, from 1,295 to 1,455. The number of first-time freshmen in Parkville also set a record for the school’s 142-year history at 293. The previous high was 257 in 2008.
Park also experienced increases in the numbers of new international students and graduate students.
“In 2016, we declared that enrollment growth was a key priority for our institution. Our fall 2017 results confirm that our entire university heard the clarion call and responded in an
unprecedented way,” Park president Dr. Greg Gunderson said. “From recruiting and retention, to the upkeep of the campus, the hosting of special events and providing superior support services to students, every effort impacted enrollment.”
According to school officials, several factors contributed to the largest freshman class in Park’s 142-year history, including the growth of Park’s athletics programs, a new cost structure for meal plans, establishment of the Fides et Labor scholarship, and renovations of Norrington Center, the historic Carnegie Library and the student center Thompson Commons. The Fides et Labor scholarship provides free housing and meals for students who work 20 hours per week on campus and get involved in university organizations and events.
“Park University is focused on broadening access to education, and we meet individuals’ unique needs once they become students,” said Shane B. Smeed, Park’s vice president and chief operating officer.
On August 14, Park began offering undergraduate and graduate classes at the Lenexa, Kan., Civic Campus, which opened on July 31.
“Our commitment to student success is evident in our small class sizes taught by highly qualified faculty and adjunct faculty,” said Michelle E. Myers, Park’s interim provost. “Engaged students return semester after semester and persist to graduation.”