Numbers as of yesterday show that 8,584 students are enrolled as full-time and part-time students at TTU, up from last year's figures of 8,215, for a percentage increase of 4.5 percent.
"Never before in its 84-year history have so many students attended Tennessee Tech and this is something the faculty and staff and this community can be proud of," said President Angelo Volpe. "We are proving that, even with severe budget cuts, TTU is the choice for more and more students seeking a quality education."
Over the years, Tennessee Tech's total enrollment has remained steady at slightly more than 8,000 students. This year's increase over the previous year of nearly five percent and 369 students is the largest percentage headcount increase of any of the Tennessee Board of Regents' universities as of Friday's count. The other TBR universities are Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee State University, University of Memphis, East Tennessee State University and Austin Peay State University.
News of TTU's highest enrollment ever comes on the heels of its high ranking in the recent U.S. News and World Report survey of American colleges and universities. Tennessee Tech was the only state public institution to be ranked in the top tier of Southern colleges and universities, scoring high in such categories as graduation rates and quality of faculty.
"Tennessee Tech continues to prove itself as a top-notch university. And the results stem directly from the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff and students," Volpe added.
Graduate enrollment at TTU has also reached an all-time high with 1,541 students, up from 1,312 last year, for a jump of 17.5 percent, said Jim Rose, assistant vice president for enrollment and records.
And the number of new freshmen entering Tennessee Tech this year Ñ a total of 1,188, compared to 1,043 last fall, for a 13.9 percent increase Ñ while not a record, is an impressive achievement, Rose said.
"We're extremely pleased with the result," he said. "It's very uncommon for new student enrollment to be over 10 percent, and we're well over that."
Much of the increase in freshmen enrollment can be attributed to a strong push by the Admissions Office to keep in touch with students who showed an interest in Tennessee Tech, Rose explained. It's part of an overall enrollment development emphasis campuswide.
"One of the major factors in our enrollment increase was we spent more time and energy using students to call potential students Ñ what is known as 'telecounseling' Ñ calling those who already showed an interest in TTU," he said.
Thousands of phone calls were made by current TTU students to graduating high school seniors who either applied to TTU or asked for more information about TTU. And this contact in turn resulted in an increase in campus visits and, Rose believes, finally resulted in the largest freshman class since 1994, when 1,248 new freshmen enrolled.
"In essence, we kept in close contact with the students," he said. "And we really believe this helped."
Minority enrollment at Tennessee Tech continues to remain stable as in years past: there are 263 African Americans, for 3.1 percent; 21 American Indian/Alaskan native, for 0.2 percent; 241 Asians, for 2.8 percent; and 78 Hispanics, for 0.9 percent.
Of the total 7,043 undergraduates, more than 1,550, or 22 percent, are majoring in engineering. The next highest enrollment by major is business, with 1,462 students, at nearly 21 percent of the total enrollment.
Enrollment in universities is divided into two major categories Ð total headcount and full-time equivalency, those undergraduates taking 15 hours or more and those graduate students taking 12 hours. Of this fall's 8,584 total enrollment, there are 7,227 full-time equivalent students, an increase of 116 from 1998, for nearly a 2-percent increase in full-time equivalency students.
"We get approximately 40 percent of our students from the 14 counties of the Upper Cumberland, which means we have to work the rest of the state pretty hard," Rose explained."There was not a major increase in the number of students graduating from high school last year, so all Tennessee universities are competing for a bigger piece of the same pie. I think Tennessee Tech has done an exceptional job, and we hope to continue," he said.