(by Erin Chesnut, UTM University Relations Staff Writer)
UT Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver expects 2020 to be a year of growth for the university, mentioning increased enrollment, new academic programs and new buildings on his radar for the coming months.
“Spring enrollment for 2020 is trending upward and says good things for this fall. Our graduate student enrollment has reached a record high, with 580 graduate students currently taking classes. That’s a 60.2 percent increase, so 218 students total, compared to last spring,” he said. “I am also proud to announce that our full-time equivalency totals are up by 143 students, which will be a factor in state funding for the 2020-21 academic year.”
Full-time equivalency, or FTE, is calculated by dividing the total number of enrolled course hours by 15 for undergraduate students and 12 for graduate students and is used to allocate higher education funding statewide. UT Martin has also seen an enrollment increase for dual and concurrent students this spring, with 1,260 students taking classes – an increase of 78 students (6.6 percent) compared to spring 2019. Total student headcount stands at 6,728 students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
“We’re working hard to secure new freshmen and transfer students and optimize retention efforts for our current students,” he said. The chancellor also spoke of five new academic programs in the coming year, with four of those announced at the master’s level. He says the university’s strategic enrollment plan, in production with the help of national research firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz, will be finished this year and help to guide student recruitment and retention efforts for the next five years.
“I am most excited about the Latimer Engineering and Science Building. This will be the first new academic building developed at UT Martin in more than 40 years,” he said. “We’ll open construction bids later this month, and there will be lots of associated activity as a result of the design and building process. … We’re also working to make sure we have the most secure campus that we can possibly have, and we’ll be installing approximately 200 new security cameras over the next year.”
Carver is also excited to see renovations completed in Clement Hall, which will house a variety of student success units once finalized. The upgrades will make the building a “one-stop shop” for students taking care of university business.
As for what the next decade holds, Carver is hopeful the university will continue to thrive and expand to offer even more opportunities for West Tennessee residents.
“I’d like to see us keeping true to our mission to be the finest regional, undergraduate teaching institution that we can possibly be. I’d like to see our five off-campus centers thriving and offering master’s degree programs from those locations,” he said. “I’d hope that our enrollment in 10 years would reflect the diversity of our region and state.”
Carver also mentioned the second Skyhawk Retention Summit, scheduled for May 13, which will continue the discussion about student success and persistence among colleges and universities across the southeast. The 2019 summit welcomed 250 representatives from 28 institutions across six states.