University of the Ozarks continues to be one of the fastest-growing universities in the region, shattering enrollment and admission records for the second consecutive year and topping 800 students for the first time in its history.
A total of 872 students are enrolled at U of O for the Fall 2018 Semester, the most in the University’s 184-year history and a 15 percent increase over last year’s previous record of 755 students.
Enrollment at Ozarks has increased 49 percent since 2013, when 585 students were enrolled.
The incoming class, which includes first-time freshmen and transfer students, is 323 — the largest incoming class in the University’s 184-year history and a 38 percent increase over the incoming class of 2016.
The university also reported a retention rate of 75 percent for last year’s freshman class from fall 2017 to fall 2018, a 15 percent increase over the fall-to-fall retention rate from the previous year.
“There is growing energy and excitement throughout the campus as we continue to reach notable milestones in this University’s long history,” said U of O President Richard Dunsworth. “The growth reflects the University’s positive image and reputation in higher education here in the River Valley and across the region, nation and world. With a record number of new students choosing Ozarks as well as a significant increase in retaining our current students, this success is reflective of the outstanding work of our dedicated faculty and staff.”
This year’s student body is one of the most geographically diverse in the University’s history with182 international students from 25 countries, including the Bahamas, Belgium, Haiti, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Malaysia, Panama, Russia, Rwanda, South Korea, Spain and Zimbabwe. Ozarks also has students from 27 states and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
The University is also setting records for enrolling local students, with 169 students from the River Valley counties of Johnson, Pope, Conway, Franklin, Logan and Crawford. A total of 104 students hail from the University’s home county of Johnson, including 40 in the incoming class.
Dunsworth said the University and its board of trustees have worked to hold, and in some cases decrease, the cost of attending Ozarks for students and their families over the past six years by eliminating fees, freezing tuition, increasing scholarship support and placing an emphasis on technology.
“We remain committed to keeping an Ozarks’ education affordable and reducing the amount of debt our students incur and I think prospective students and their families see that,” Dunsworth said. “We’ve implemented a sound financial aid strategy that is in line with our mission of serving and preparing students from diverse backgrounds. When you combine that with increased academic opportunities, broader international partnerships and more innovative programs and curriculum, you have an educational experience that is truly top-notch.”
Reggie Hill, vice president for marketing and enrollment, said the University closed admission in June for the second consecutive year.
“We’re seeing more students applying early, completing applications and confirming their attendance at Ozarks well before the deadline,” Hill said. “This tremendous enrollment growth is a consequence of building strong relationships locally and abroad, strategic enrollment planning and a significant increase in retention. It’s a wonderful testament of the value of an Ozarks education as well as the campus-wide efforts we are putting into recruiting students who desire a high-quality, personalized education.”