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WIU sees increase in enrollment for first time in 10 years despite pandemic

Interim President Martin Abraham lauded and thanked faculty and staff for the notable accomplishment in the face of incredible challenges.

MACOMB, Ill. — Western Illinois University has seen its first gain in student enrollment in 10 years, as other regional schools also see strong numbers in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to news release posted to the university's website, 1,064 new freshman enrolled in classes for the Fall 2020 semester, an increase of 18.9% from the previous year. The number of new transfer students increased by 9.2% to 721 students, and 569 students enrolled in gradute school; an increase of 10.3%. Overall, with 7, 490 students enrolled 10 days into the semester, the overall increase comes out to 13.7%.

Additionally, the numbers indicate a 7.1% increase in total students in the transition from Spring 2020 to Fall 2020. WIU has no seen a spring-to-fall-increase since 2016.

"Last year when I took over as interim president, I stated publicly that our number one objective was to improve enrollment and retention. For the first time in 10 years, new student enrollment has increased relative to last fall," said Interim President Martin Abraham. "In addition, overall WIU enrollment had declined for each of the past six semesters. That's an unusual trend, since fall enrollment is normally higher than spring, so I stated a second enrollment goal for us: that our Fall 2020 enrollment would exceed our Spring 2020 enrollment. I am proud to say that we have broken that eight semester streak." 

Abraham also noted that outreach to the Chicago area and new scholarship initiatives has also contributed to an increase in minority students from 32.4% in 2019 to 34.9% in 2020.

"We still have a lot of work to do on each of the goals that we laid out last year, despite the phenomenal progress that we have made. Enrollment needs to continue to move in a positive direction and we will continue to work on enhancing retention," Abraham concluded. "Our admissions, enrollment management, and retention staff are to be commended for their tireless efforts. They took charge of the goals that were set, and worked hard to not only meet, but exceed, those goals. Finally, I extend my deepest appreciation to our faculty and staff for everything you've done in the past 12 months to ensure we remain a strong and viable University. This could not be achieved without an 'all in' attitude. I'm honored to be a part of Western Illinois University and work beside each of you." 

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