Large transfer class flocks to BU

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Recent high school graduates won't be the only noticeable new group of students on campus this fall.

Baker University's College of Arts and Sciences campus is welcoming the largest number of transfer students it's had it many years.

With the addition of two new sports programs last fall, enrollment was significantly higher than it had been in recent years with 308 new students. This year, however, the university only budgeted for 255 new students.

"What we've done this year, we built our budget on the number of students we anticipated having and that was truly because we didn't add programming this year in the way of sports or an academic program," Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl said. "From a financial standpoint, certainly that allowed us to build a very realistic budget."

Although official numbers will not be known for several weeks, Mark Bandre, vice president for enrollment management and student development, believes the number of students will be very close to the estimated 255 budgeted for.

"I hate to use a quote of we're down, because it was kind of intentional that we would be," Bandre said. "It would be great if we were over, but given everything … from this last year, to be real close to it is kind of a victory."

Bandre said there looks to be around 188 freshmen and about 64 transfer students new to Baker's campus this fall. Bandre said this was the highest number of transfer students to come to Baker in some time, and two-year colleges need to be a focal point for Baker to recruit from.

"The other thing we're going to start working on is trying to do a better job as a university in networking with the junior colleges," Bandre said. "Partly through the School of Professional and Graduate Studies, Baker does have articulation agreements with every community college in Kansas and most in Missouri."

University President Pat Long would have liked to have seen a higher freshman enrollment number, but was pleased with the amount of students coming to Baker given the growth of community college numbers and the state of the economy.

"I would have liked it to be a little higher, but I'm satisfied, I'm very satisfied," Long said.

Since the budget was made for 255 new students, Long said the loss of tuition dollars from last year's class of new students to this class shouldn't be a factor, but the problem with a small class size is it is a four-year issue.

"I think we're going to get close to our goal and our tuition money," Long said. "What the challenge is in any time you have a smaller freshman class, for four years you have a smaller class. You always want to make sure you have a good group of students, a large number of freshmen, as large as you can get."

Bandre said the admission office should have had a strong idea of the number of students on campus for the fall by Monday, however, an enrollment count is done on the 20th day of classes, which is when the numbers are really finalized.

Despite low freshman numbers, Long is excited for the upcoming year at the university.

"I'm just feeling very hopeful about this year, very positive," Long said. "I think we ended the year strong. I have a lot of optimism about where we're going to go."

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