Classes are underway at Lipscomb University, and for a tenth consecutive fall the institution is celebrating an increase in its student population in addition to other record milestones.
Students returned to classes on Monday, Aug. 18. First-day enrollment numbers indicate a total enrollment of more than 4,500 graduate and undergraduate students. While most degree categories saw increases, most notable are double-digit increases in the university’s nursing program, graduate business degree programs and adult degree studies (programs for students returning to college work after an extended hiatus).
Enrollment numbers in higher education are “official” on the 14th day of classes. Lipscomb administrators anticipate additional growth since, on average, enrollment numbers increase by more than 75 students between the first day of classes and the 14th.
One of the highlights of this year’s first-day enrollment data is an 80.5 percent overall retention rate for returning students from fall semester 2013 to this fall. That is a three percent increase from this time last year, and is well above the national average retention rate of approximately 70 percent.
“Lipscomb continues to show strong growth as we add new programs, launch new initiatives and serve the community,” said Lipscomb University President L. Randolph Lowry. “Our growth continues in some highly competitive academic areas such as business and nursing. I am particularly pleased that we have retained more students than ever before in university history. That is an indication that the Lipscomb community is not only where our students enjoy learning and preparing for their careers, but it is also a place they feel welcome, they explore their faith and they feel at home.
Registrar Teresa Williams, who directed the university’s retention efforts for the last eight years as director of student advocacy, said the increased retention rate is a reflection of the institution’s investment in academic resources for students.
“This is a significant accomplishment, and we are thrilled,” said Williams. “We are seeing the benefit of an increased focus on and additional investment in programs and initiatives to give our students resources to help them to be successful academically over the last five years. A number of programs, including the Academic Resource Center, have played a key role in this success, along with the ever-increasing academic quality of our students who are more engaged and a campus community that is becoming more aware of the role they play in helping students have a successful college experience.”
The record Adult Degree Program enrollment reflects the institute’s growing competency-based education program.
“We have admitted the largest number of new students into the Adult Degree Program, in fact, we are still admitting them today and will continue to in the coming weeks as our eight-week terms continue throughout the semester,” said Charla Long, dean of the College of Professional Studies, which houses the Adult Degree Program and the competency-based education program. “This is a very exciting time for us. The competency-based program has driven a significant portion of this growth. Competency-based education is an emerging higher education model that has great potential especially for non-traditional students who already bring a great deal of work and life experience to the classroom. It focuses on what students need to know, understand and be able to do to earn degrees and on assessing the achievement of these discipline-specific and general competencies.”
Although Lipscomb has offered an adult degree completion program for decades, the competency-based program targeting adult learners launched less than a year ago. The program is offered through Lipscomb’s CORE (Customized, Outcome-based, Relevant Evaluation) Competency Assessment and Development Center. It is tied to the nationally recognized Polaris® competency assessment model that has been used by organizations such as Nike, Wendy’s International Inc. and AT&T.
Lipscomb’s program just recently became the first to be approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is one of only a few of its kind in the nation. Students can earn up to 30 credits, following a rigorous behavioral assessment, saving them thousands of dollars in tuition expenses.
The university is poised to continue its growth in the coming months. Earlier this month, the Lipscomb University Board of Trustees approved the formation of a new School of Public Policy and Civic Leadership, a physician assistant degree and the formation of two new colleges, the College of Entertainment and the Arts and the College of Computing and Information Technology, among other initiatives.
Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, Tenn., delivers a complete liberal arts education characterized by an integration of Christian faith and practice with academic excellence, preparing each student spiritually, intellectually, socially and physically for life and eternity. Lipscomb’s innovative curriculum and graduation requirements challenge students academically, spiritually and in their role as global community citizens.
Founded in 1891, Lipscomb University has grown into a consistently top-ranked university with more than 4,500 students enrolled. It also includes a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 campus school, with an enrollment of more than 1,300.