Indications show that September will begin a year of record undergraduate student enrollment with a predicted 400-student increase from the 2010–11 freshman class.
“The increase in enrollment reflects the high quality of the education we offer,” said David Dufault-Hunter, vice president for enrollment management. Dufault-Hunter also explained that an APU education is especially appealing this year because California budget cuts have made it difficult to attend public universities. “Public schools are cutting classes and faculty members. This is a huge contrast to Azusa Pacific where we are growing, hiring faculty, and retaining our students.”
Dufault-Hunter shared that a growing student body reflects the university’s growth as a whole and maintains the affordability of an APU education. “More students means less pressure to raise tuition,” he said. “In the meantime, we have continued to address affordability issues and increase academic awards.”
The increase in undergraduate students brings its fair share of challenges, such as limited housing, parking, and chapel accommodations, and increased pressure on faculty and staff to do more with less. Despite these limitations, Dufault-Hunter and the rest of the APU staff and faculty are dedicated to finding solutions by planning and accessing all available resources. “The APU community should know that we take the impact that increased enrollment brings on students and people who serve our students seriously, and we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact,” said Dufault-Hunter. “We are continuing to expand the online components of classes, adding class sections, using technology to maximize our space, and having early conversations with faculty and staff members about accommodating more students.”
Maintaining the excellence of an APU education by keeping an acceptable student-to-faculty ratio remains a priority for Provost Mark Stanton, Ph.D. “We continue to hire committed and high quality faculty who are entirely consistent with the mission and purpose of the university,” said Stanton. The university hired more than 60 new faculty members in the past year, developing many new positions to accommodate the growing student body.
The Office of Chapel Programs has also been hard at work in response to the enrollment increase, adding to the number of chapel options available for students. “We have added six more liturgical chapels to the 2011–12 school year and moved international chapel to the Upper Turner Campus Center to accommodate more students,” said Tim Peck, D.Min., director of chapel programs. “These efforts and others will create an environment where students will have seven chapel options most weeks.”
In the meantime, members of the APU community such as Jazmin Bennett ’14, an alpha leader for the fall 2011 semester, look forward to the arrival of the new freshman class. “The thing I am most excited about is making new friendships through my alpha leader position,” said Bennett. “I can’t wait to meet my alpha group on the first night of orientation and be a friend for them as they transition into college life at APU.”
Dufault-Hunter and the Azusa Pacific faculty and staff are working hard to prepare for the 2011–12 freshman class and ensure that the college life they experience at APU will reflect the excellence of a God First university.