While many colleges and universities worried the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to significant drops in their student populations, universities in Southern Utah saw record enrollment growth this year.
In Cedar City, Southern Utah University, had more year-to-year enrollment growth than any other public university in the state, according to the Utah System of Higher Education.
The university had a 12.1% increase in enrollment and welcomed-in 1,358 new students this fall. SUU has a current total of 12,582 students— the most in the school’s history.
About an hour and a half away from SUU, Dixie State University, of St. George, also had record enrollment growth.
Darlene Dilley, the assistant provost of enrollment at DSU, said despite the impact of COVID-19, the university was lucky to see so many students continuing to enroll.
“Overall, enrollment did increase by 7.6 percent over last year," Dilley said. "And we did welcome about 3,210 new students to campus, which was a 10.8 percent increase in first-time freshmen and transfer students; So, one of our biggest incoming classes ever.”
Dilley said it was a campus-wide effort to recruit, retain, and enroll the new freshmen class. The admissions team focused on switching all of their in-person recruiting events to an online format.
“With the recruitment piece we moved our average events, our orientations, our campus tours, you know all of that to a virtual format very quickly," Dilley said. "I think that was critical in helping students feel engaged and that they were still able to stay engaged with us in late spring and during the summer.”
Dilley said DSU has a current enrollment of 12,043 students and she expects the number to continue increasing as the university grows.