Enrollments mixed as students return

Conrad Grebel University College students plant cloves of garlic during orientation week in September to symbolize new beginnings. When it is harvested, there will be a garlic feast on campus, along with a donation to a food bank. — Jen Konkle/Conrad Grebel University College Conrad Grebel University College students plant cloves of garlic during orientation week in September to symbolize new beginnings. When it is harvested, there will be a garlic feast on campus, along with a donation to a food bank. — Jen Konkle/Conrad Grebel University College

The higher education institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church USA released enrollment statistics Sept. 27. Two saw overall enrollment growth, while four saw dips.

Mennonite Brethren and Canadian institutions show mixed signs of pandemic recovery.

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary reported its highest level of course enrollments in seven years (53.6 FTE), with a total enrollment of 145 students, slightly down from 152 in 2020. The incoming graduate student class of 45 is 60.7% larger than in 2020.

Distance education programs grew, with 62% of students enrolled in distance-friendly degree or certificate programs. Graduate students from outside the U.S. and Canada grew from 37 in 2020 to a record of 54. For the first time, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students make up the majority of the student body.

Bethel College welcomed 182 new students to campus, and total enrollment grew from 461 a year ago to 484 this fall.

“Our last three classes have been the largest freshman classes in over 30 years, and overall retention remains high,” said Heidi Hoskinson, vice president for enrollment management.

Bluffton University reported 260 new undergraduate students. Total enrollment is 791, compared to 750 last fall.

“For the third year in a row, Bluffton University’s enrollment continues to be on the rise,” said Robin Bowlus, vice president for advancement and enrollment management. “A large incoming first-year class of 242 is the largest since 2011.”

Eastern Mennonite University undergraduate enrollment increased, but total enrollment declined about 2%. In all, 1,436 students are enrolled in EMU programs, with 792 undergraduates and 644 in graduate, seminary, adult degree completion and other noncredit programs. Director of admissions Matt Ruth reported an increase in transfer students.

Goshen College added 219 new undergraduate students this fall, but total enrollment dropped from 899 to 811 students.

“Highlights from this year’s incoming class include a 16% increase in students living on campus, as well as increases among our international and Black/African American student populations,” said Dominique Burgunder-Johnson, vice president for marketing and enrollment.

Hesston College enrollment also decreased, from 363 to 344. Incoming international students grew by 21%.

“Areas of excitement for Hesston include an increase in our international student population despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, an increased percentage of students of color and welcoming our first junior cohort pursuing bachelor’s degrees in business management,” said Del Hershberger, vice president of admissions.

Tabor College traditional, on-campus enrollment grew from 504 students last fall to 549 this year. Total enrollment, which includes adult students, online programs and dual-credit high school students, is 688. Mennonite Brethren students on campus number 49.

Fresno Pacific University total enrollment dropped from 4,001 to 3,522 as the pandemic continues to depress numbers. Graduate students held steady while degree completion saw the biggest decline.

Conrad Grebel University College residence numbers have increased since the pandemic began, with 221 students living on campus, up from 102 living in campus facilities last year. Course enrollments are similar to last year’s higher-than-typical numbers. Just over half of classes are blending remote and in-person elements. One is fully in-person, and the remaining classes are taught remotely.

The Master of Theological Studies program counts 37 students, and the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program added 20 new students, bringing the MPACS total to 50.

Canadian Mennonite University full-time equivalent enrollment has been holding steady at about 875. The Shaftesbury main campus student numbers dipped 1%, despite international registrations beginning to rebound after last year’s pandemic impacts. About 90% of CMU academic programming is offered in-person, and the remainder is virtual.

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