SIU enrollment drops for second summer

By Gus Bode

Administrators attribute drop to U.S. military actions

Summer enrollment at the University is down 424 students from last summer, but University administrators aren’t exactly losing any sleep over the drop.

The 10th-day enrollment figures for the summer, which were released late last week, show that enrollment at the University stands at 9,971, down from the 10,395 students who were enrolled last summer.

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Even though this marks the second summer in a row that numbers have gone down on campus – in the summer of 2001, enrollment actually increased by 80 students – Anne Deluca, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, said this year’s decrease can be traced to an expected and very predictable cause.

“The main decrease has been in off-campus students,” Deluca said, “and that’s directly attributable to military programs. Given the situation we’re involved in the Middle East, this was not at all unexpected.”

Since U.S. military operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq, universities all across the country have experienced dips in enrollment numbers as students have been called into active duty to serve overseas.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry Dietz, who pointed out that the decline in on-campus students was so modest that it “has been viewed as flat,” said most of the enrollment decline can be attributed to students studying off campus at military bases. A situation such as the one with the U.S. military, he said, creates a dual-pronged effect – students studying at military bases are called into active duty, and student reserves are called in to take their places at the base.

Overall figures show that 6,930 undergraduates and 2,736 graduate students are studying at SIU this summer, with 7,155 of them actually on-campus. In addition, 188 medical students and 117 law students are working toward degrees this summer, and 23 students are studying at SIU’s campus in Nakajo, Japan.

While Chancellor Walter Wendler said he is optimistic about enrollment numbers for the upcoming fall semester, Dietz said it is difficult to tell at this point whether the enrollment trend resulting from overseas military operations will continue.

“It’s really too early to tell,” Dietz said. “It depends on how things continue this summer.”

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Wendler said that although he could not present exact figures, projected enrollment for the fall seemed to be slightly ahead of last year’s numbers. He said the University is confident that enrollment numbers would be strong for this semester.

Reporter Geoffrey Ritter can be reached at [email protected]

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