One of the most anticipated announcements from the University of Montana has been the numbers for fall enrollment. Those numbers were released on Wednesday.

Director of Communications Paula Short said the numbers for new freshman enrollment are encouraging.

“The University of Montana has an overall fall head count of 11,865 students,” Short began. “The incoming freshman class at UM increased two percent from a year ago. We have 1,292 students in the freshman class compared to 1,268 last year.”

Short said that the newly hired Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs, Dr. Thomas Crady, has implemented strategies intended to increase enrollment.

“Dr. Crady has said all along that these are strategies that are going to take a little while to yield results,” she said. “It’s kind of like turning a big aircraft carrier, it doesn’t happen on a dime. We are up both at the Missoula College and at the Mountain campus with Native American students, and then on the Mountain campus, we are up for first generation students, and those are both groups that we are very interested in recruiting because they really do represent accessible education for a lot of Montanans.”

Short said even though there was positive news on enrollment, the overall budget picture for the university system is still troubling.

“The statewide financial picture is challenging,” she said. “We’ve all been advised that the MUS (Montana University System) must prepare for a general fund reduction elated to the state’s budget situation. Despite the encouraging enrollment numbers today, the entire budget picture for the university system is still very serious. Because all the students have not yet finalized their bills, we don’t understand fully what our tuition revenue picture looks like.”

UM’s enrollment was a key topic of discussion for each of the four presidential finalists who visited campus earlier this month.

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