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Ole Miss has highest enrollment in Mississippi

The recent release of IHL preliminary enrollment statistics for the fall of 2012 show that Ole Miss, combining the Oxford campus and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, has the most students in the state. The university also experienced the highest percent increase in overall enrollment this year.
Cain Madden

What’s obvious to everyone in Oxford is now clear to the rest of the state. The University of Mississippi is continuing to grow. The Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) released the 2012 preliminary fall enrollment figures for the state of Mississippi on Monday. The preliminary numbers, including enrollment statistics at The University of Mississippi in Oxford and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, show that Ole Miss has accumulated both the largest increase in number of students and the largest percentage change in the state of Mississippi from the fall semester of 2011. “Clearly, Ole Miss offers an excellent education that is accessible to many students,” said Dr. Noel Wilkin, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our continuing enrollment growth demonstrates that people recognize the quality of our programs, and we offer a unique collegiate experience that can lead to their success.” According to the preliminary numbers submitted by the IHL to The Daily Mississippian, Ole Miss has 21,543 students at both the Oxford and UMMC campuses. That number of students is up 704 from 20,830 in the fall of 2011, a 3.4 percent increase. On the Oxford campus alone, there are 18,793 students this fall. That number of students is up 569 from 18,224 students in 2011. The medical school has 2,741 students enrolled in this fall semester, which is up 135 students from the fall of 2011. The numbers are considered “preliminary” because of several factors, like students not yet paying tuition or dropping out early in the semester, according to the IHL. The final numbers will be taken on Oct. 1 and will be released soon thereafter. “It’s really exciting that (Ole Miss’) campus is still growing,” said Dr. Hank Bounds, commissioner of higher education. “Based on the numbers we have now, it looks like they have more in-state students than last year, in addition to a growing medical school.” While the public institutions in the state of Mississippi collectively experienced a 0.6 percent increase in 2012, adding 457 to the total number of students in 2011, Ole Miss is one of three public institutions in Mississippi to have a percentage increase in overall enrollment from 2011 to 2012. Neither of the other two institutions accumulated as drastic an increase as Ole Miss’ 3.4 percent increase from 2011 to 2012 (Delta State University saw a 2.9 percent increase, and Mississippi Valley State University saw a 0.6 percent increase). The combined enrollment for the The University of Mississippi Oxford campus and the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson makes Ole Miss the leader in the state’s overall enrollment. Other public institutions inMississippi were included in the IHL’s report. Mississippi State University, which is second in the state’s overall enrollment with 20,365 students, had 59 less students than in the fall of 2011 – a 0.3 percent decrease. The University of Southern Mississippi, which is third in the state’s overall enrollment with 16,471 students, also experienced a decrease in enrollment in 2012. 133 less students were enrolled at Southern Miss in 2012 than in 2011, which is a 0.8 percent decrease. “Being in a leadership position is not new for The University of Mississippi,” Wilkin said. “By focusing on excellence and accessibility, we have been able to create unique opportunities for Mississippians and for people from around the country and world.” Many students sounded off on the recent numbers. “I think it’s great for the university and state that Ole Miss can add to the education of the people,” first-year law student Grant Bennett said. “We need to keep up the flagship institution role in the state, and these numbers prove that we are where we need to be.” Ole Miss continues to gather recognition not only in the state of Mississippi, but on a national level, as well. “There is clearly something special about The University of Mississippi,” Wilkin said. “The national recognition that our campus and our programs have received in recent years is the result of the hard work of our faculty and staff and their leadership at a time when our state was facing tough economic times.”