At this point, Pittsburg State University officials might start getting disappointed when they don’t set attendance records.

At this point, Pittsburg State University officials might start getting disappointed when they don’t set attendance records.
PSU continued its trend of record enrollment numbers Thursday, when officials unveiled a total headcount of 7,127 students, or 40 students more than the university boasted last fall.
This year marked the second time in the university’s 105-year history that more than 7,000 students were in attendance. Last year, the university topped that benchmark with 7,087 students.
“We are pleased with these numbers in light of the fact that there is so much uncertainty in our economy,” said PSU President Tom Bryant. “Credit for this growth is shared by many within the university and our community.”
The numbers were officially released Thursday by the Kansas Board of Regents. Enrollment numbers from each of the Regents universities are released each fall on the 20th day of classes.
“I think the students who come here are really happy with the teaching and the individual attention they are receiving,” said William Ivey, dean of enrollment management and student success. “We’ve increased marketing efforts, and admissions has done a great job. But the best ambassadors are always your satisfied students.”
With 1,104 new freshmen, university officials say they are pleased to see the largest freshman class since 1965. The junior and senior classes also broke records this year with 1,257 and 1,893 students, respectively.
Other areas of marked growth include the number of in-state residents, the number of graduate students, and the number of international students. Pitt State’s Office of International Programs and Services has welcomed more than 500 international students this year (the largest number since the early ‘90s) from 40 different countries.
“We’re really pleased about the numbers, especially in looking at the largest freshman class in 43 years,” Ivey said. “Now that they are here, it’s important for us to retain them and make sure they become successful graduates of Pittsburg State.”
With more full-time students physically taking courses on campus, the effect on businesses in the community is no doubt significant. The results of an ongoing study will be released in a few weeks that will show the economic impact each student makes to the Pittsburg area.
This year, the total number of full-time equivalent students has increased by .7 percent, with students taking a total of 94,205 credit hours, up 407 credit hours over last fall.
So how long will the run of record growth continue? Ivey said it could be difficult to sustain in the future, citing statistics that showed a likely decrease in the number of Kansas high school graduates within the next 10 years. Ivey said that meant PSU would have to work other routes to continue growing, including looking more at two-year schools, non-traditional students while adding incentives to keep bringing in the Kansas high schoolers who do graduate.
For now, Ivey said the university was hesitant to cap the growth.
“We have not put a number on that, but we always talk about wanting managed growth,” Ivey said. “Obviously this year, our residence halls were full, and our class schedules were pretty tight. We certainly couldn’t have handled another 500 students this fall. But we haven’t gone out and put a limit on it.”
As the numbers steadily rise, Bryant said infrastructure and facilities will continue to be a priority.
“We are continuing to grow, and that’s very important,” Bryant said. “The increase in full-time students on the campus creates several positive challenges for the university and the community.”

Kevin Flaherty can be reached at kevin.flaherty@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134