Archive for Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baker enrolls largest freshman class in four years

Baker University students walk Tuesday past Mulvane Hall. The building's renovation and addition of the Ivan Boyd Center are credited with helping boost the school's freshman enrollment to the highest number since 2009.

Baker University students walk Tuesday past Mulvane Hall. The building's renovation and addition of the Ivan Boyd Center are credited with helping boost the school's freshman enrollment to the highest number since 2009.

August 27, 2013

New friends Lulu Ruding and Shelby Stephens, spotted walking together on

the Baker University campus Monday, said sports scholarships had much to

do with their decisions to enroll at the school.

Ruding, a freshman from Enid, Okla., is a member of the tennis team,

and Shawnee freshman Stephens is on the school’s cross country and

track teams.

The two are part of the university’s largest freshman class

since 255 enrolled in 2009, said Kevin Kropf, senior director of

admissions. The university has 235 freshmen this

fall, an increase of 24 students from a year ago. Total enrollment

stayed steady at about 900 students, he said.

The first year of the school’s bowling and wrestling programs helped

boost freshmen enrollment in 2009, but Kropf said it declined in the

three following years because there were no new programs or

initiatives to sustain that success in a sluggish economy.

Kropf attributed much of this year’s increase in freshmen to a

marketing and recruiting focus on last fall’s completion of the

Mulvane Hall renovations, which included the addition of the Ivan Boyd

Center for

Collaborative Science Education.

“Pre-health and science students make up 20 percent of this year’s

freshman class,” he said. “We had a special visitation program called

‘Celebrating Science Day.’ Eighty-two percent of those who attended

later enrolled.”

While the university will continue to focus on science education, it

also will emphasize the school’s value, Kropf said. Such things as

the school’s recent inclusion on a list of top-100 Midwest schools

help with that effort, but university officials promote the school’s

No. 1 graduation rate among Kansas universities and the success its

graduates have in being accepted to medical schools or top-flight

graduate programs, he said.

“We want to find distinctions students and their families can hang

their hats on,” Kropf said. “People say Baker’s tuition is higher than

Kansas University or Kansas State, but that doesn’t necessarily make

the cost of our education higher. When you factor in such things as

time of graduation — most of our students graduate in four years or

less — academic scholarships and sports participation awards, families

often find we are as affordable as public universities.”

Her sports scholarship and the new science facilities played a part in

pre-nursing student Stephens’ decision to attend Baker, but she said

the tipping point was the school’s more intimate scale.

“I liked the smaller size,” she said. “Every time I came for a visit,

everyone was very friendly.”

Kropf is confident that, unlike the 2009 bubble, this year’s success can

be sustained.

“I think the renovated Harter Student Union will make a big

difference,” he said. “Another thing we try to promote is the

community, and there are now 15 places to dine in Baldwin City. Our

students like that we are close to Lawrence and Kansas City, but I

think those local opportunities make a big difference.”

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