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September 11, 2013

OU has largest freshman class ever

Total enrollment aimed for historic high

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

ROCHESTER HILLS — Oakland University’s largest-ever freshman class marks 15 consecutive years of student population growth, say university officials, who anticipate a total enrollment of 20,000 students for the first time in OU history.

This fall’s freshman class of 2,542 students reflects a 1.8 percent increase over last year. University officials state student retention rates are expected to increase by approximately 10 percent.

Kiara Goddard is a member of the 2014 OU freshman class. While studying in the OU Human Heath Services Building — which opened in 2012 — Goddard said she was encouraged by friends to enroll in the school’s physical therapy program.

“They are known for their health services,” Goddard said about OU. “They have new technology in a new building, and I can have hands-on activity in my major.”

In addition to student growth, OU is in the midst of a building boom. New projects currently in development or under construction include a student housing complex, new athletic fields, a 127,000-square-foot Engineering Center, a 151-foot carillon tower, a new parking structure and a new maintenance facility.

A new anatomy laboratory at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine opened this fall inside the university’s Hannah Hall of Science.

Goddard, who currently lives on campus in Hamlin Hall, said she plans to live in the new housing complex, which is under construction and visible from Walton Boulevard, on the north edge of campus.

“It is for freshmen and sophomores,” she said. “My godmother is an alumni; she graduated in 1995. She told me the history of OU. I like that it is growing.”

“Enrollment growth and student retention are two key factors in measuring how you are serving your students’ needs,” said OU Interim President Betty Youngblood in a statement. “We are pleased that these numbers reflect the fact that our students feel they are getting a high-quality education at Oakland University.”

Oakland University students can choose from more than 260 undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, along with 250 student organizations. Full-time faculty positions have increased 35 percent in the past 15 years, Youngblood said.   

“This is a defining moment for Oakland University,” Youngblood said. “Topping the 20,000-student mark will offer more proof that Oakland has become a first-choice destination for Michigan students.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.