Fall enrollment at Utah State University Tooele is up 17.8 percent this year compared to last year — the first increase since 2009.
This fall, 1,053 students are enrolled compared to last fall’s 894 students. Concurrent enrollment at the Tooele campus grew from 329 in fall 2011 to 443 this fall — a 34.7 percent increase.
Julie Hartley-Moore, USU Tooele’s associate director, said concurrent enrollment is up this year because USU Tooele has been working with the Tooele County School District to offer a good mix of classes that serve high school graduation requirements and count as general education credits toward a university degree. Hartley-Moore said last fall the university scaled back some of its concurrent enrollment courses because the credits didn’t all transfer to other colleges in Utah or didn’t help students gain credits toward earning their degrees.
“Now we’re only offering classes that work for general education, so students don’t find themselves with credits that don’t work,” she said. “These credits are also accepted at most universities in Utah.”
Hartley-Moore said an interesting pattern in USU Tooele’s enrollment is that the campus is seeing a bump in the number of students who start there fresh out of high school.
“We are trying to make our campus even more attractive to them by beefing up the social programs, clubs and activities that they would find on a larger campus,” she said. “We have three very dedicated student representatives who work hard to get our students involved in campus life and to provide fun things for them to do outside of class, like our upcoming Halloween party.”
When concurrent enrollment is not included, the total number of students on campus at USU Tooele this fall is 562. That is almost exactly the amount of students on campus in fall 2011, when the number was 565.
Hartley-Moore said overall enrollment is trending up for a variety of reasons.
“For the last few years we have seen an increasing local interest in higher education because a lot of the reliable, good-paying jobs in Tooele County that used to be available with just a high school diploma are going away,” said Hartley-Moore. “This tracks with changes in the overall U.S. economy, where it has become more and more necessary for people to have some kind of post-high school certificate or diploma to find good employment. Our Tooele campus provides a nice option for people who want those kinds of credentials because they can go to school locally without having to leave their homes, families or jobs to do it.”
Hartley-Moore said a new articulation agreement with the Tooele Applied Technology College that allows students to transfer credits toward an applied associate of science degree with USU has also helped to increase enrollment.
“It makes it easy for students to seamlessly continue their education from certificates to associate degrees to bachelor’s degrees and even on to graduate programs,” she said.
In addition, Hartley-Moore said one of the biggest factors in the enrollment growth is that the area served by the Tooele campus has expanded. She said the region now includes clusters of classrooms in the Community Learning Center and in Wendover, Nephi and Delta. Next year, there will also be classes in the new Grantsville library and at the TATC.
The number of students continuing at USU Tooele this fall rose by 10.8 percent while the number of new students grew by 5.1 percent. The number of graduate students at the campus grew from 46 to 48.
Hartley-Moore said the most popular programs at USU Tooele are business — 21 percent of students enrolled — and elementary education — 13 percent of students enrolled. Social work, nursing, history and family life studies are the next most popular programs.
“We currently have students enrolled in 57 different majors or graduate programs, including two students working on doctoral degrees,” she said.
USU Tooele has 10 full-time faculty members and 38 adjuncts, although Hartley-Moore said the number of adjuncts changes from semester to semester depending on what courses students need. The staff includes about 35 people.
Hartley-Moore said the campus also has two new full-time faculty members this year.
“Joe Wilson is a new biology professor who specializes in native bees,” she said. “He was telling me that there are 1,000 species of native bees in Utah and over 250 species in Tooele County.”
Michael Wilson is a new political science professor.
“He is the former director of the Utah Education Network and the former president of the College of Eastern Utah,” said Hartley-Moore. “His teaching for us is quite an asset for our Tooele campus and for the regional campus system.”
Hartley-Moore said because many students are parents, the campus opened a new childcare center, called Little Tooele Aggies, in August 2011 to help them out.
“The center provides excellent, subsidized child care for only $2 an hour, so parents don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch their children while they come to class or while they study,” she said.
Hartley-Moore said the search for a permanent dean for USU Tooele is still ongoing. No decision has been made, and she isn’t certain about a time frame for when a new dean will arrive. She said because the kind of person the school is looking for is a high-level academic, whoever they choose will most likely need to finish out the school year where they are before they make their way to USU Tooele.
“We’re still searching for a permanent dean and we have some strong candidates,” she said. “It’s going really well.”