Signs point to good times on Louisiana Tech campus
Ruston university experiences record enrollment and praise for its educational value.
Posted on October 1, 2002

A couple of recent reports serve as strong indicators that Louisiana Tech University is experiencing some great times.

First, U.S. News and World Report named Tech one of the best buys in higher education in the Southern region of the United States. Then fall enrollment figures reveal record growth and point to recruitment and retention efforts paying off in positive ways. That's great news.

Tech announced last week a fall enrollment of 11,280 student, up 572 from last fall and more than 100 higher than any time in the school's 108-year history. That demonstrates that people seeking higher education opportunities like what Tech has to offer and that Tech is properly reaching out to those people.

It also shows people value the educational opportunity at Tech and adds credence to the U.S. News and World Report ranking. Tech President Dan Reneau said the news reflects positively on the people at Tech and makes the atmosphere on the Ruston campus better.

"It's given it a very positive attitude and creates a lot of good feelings for most everyone on this campus,' Reneau said. "It helps create an environment very conducive to learning.'

The enrollment increase is shared among different areas that bodes well for both recruitment and retention. The student body includes a record number of first-time freshmen (2,074) and a record number of graduate students (1,888). That's a strong blend for a school that has a 59 percent graduation rate, 17 percent above the national average for public schools.

"I have to admit the total enrollment surprised me a little,' Reneau said. "It's spread out well over all areas.'

Many factors such as image, visibility and academic offerings can affect enrollment. Regardless of what the main contributors to growth and stability are, the people behind the work play a major role.

"There's a lot of good people here, good administration and faculty,' Reneau said. "They're doing a good job and the university image is helping.'

While growth shows some positive, strong signs at Tech, it does not occur without caution. Reneau said 10,500 to 11,500 in enrollment is a nice range and the university could comfortably handle 11,500 to 12,500. So Tech does not seek an enrollment explosion. It's wise to know your limits.

Reneau said that the right type of growth is good and "it's not the size, it's the quality.'

In fact, Tech will more than likely see some slight decreases in enrollment in the near future. The university already has selective admissions and has plans to up the ante in 2003 and 2005. That plan targets Tech's goal of achieving a 70 percent graduation rate in 2012.

Don't expect to see Tech continue to grow by hundreds and thousands of students. That's not the university's goal and does not truly coincide with where it wants to position itself.

The recent growth, however, along with the recognition of a quality education at a reasonable price in the higher education market shows stability and prosperity at Tech. The school has the strong foundation it needs to continue to prosper and reach toward higher goals.