Cutler Hall outside

Cutler Hall, home of the office of the president of Ohio University. File photo.

Ohio University’s spring enrollment is again down this year compared to the same time in Spring Semester 2019, this time by almost 2,000 students.

As of the 15th day of the semester (when the university is required to report its enrollment to the state), OU’s total enrollment was 30,563 students, down from 32,525 students last Spring Semester. That number itself was down from 33,914 students in Spring Semester 2018.

The Athens campus’ total enrollment is also down this semester, with 18,590 students across the undergraduate, graduate and medical student populations compared to 19,594 students in spring 2019.

The university has seen a steady decrease in its enrollment totals since Fall Semester 2017. Prior to that, OU had enjoyed record-breaking enrollment totals each fall for multiple years.

As of the 15th day of Fall Semester 2017, OU had 35,877 total students enrolled, compared to 36,441 enrolled as of the same time in Fall Semester 2016. In the fall of 2018, OU’s total enrollment was down from those totals at 34,443; OU reported that its enrollment in Fall Semester 2019 was again down, with 32,637 total students.

These enrollment decreases have generated some difficult conversations on campus with regard to the university’s budget, with some cuts already enacted and others still being considered. OU earlier this year announced a new expanded “Ohio Guarantee” plan to try to attract new students to the university.

Meanwhile, OU faculty members continue to worry about the impact that budget cuts (some already made, some still being considered) will have on the university’s academic mission. Roughly 60 faculty members attended a closed-door meeting hosted by the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) last Friday to encourage those instructors to express their concerns about the budget.

OU AAUP communications director Jennifer Fredette summarized the meeting in an email on Friday.

“Across the room, several themes emerged,” she said, “concern that Ohio University is moving away from its mission of educating our students and serving our southeast Ohio region, and an urgent need to see accountability from senior administration.”

In other news from the spring enrollment number, OU reported its regional campus enrollments are continuing to decline, with 5,030 students this Spring Semester compared to 5,405 regional campus students as of the same time last year.

OU’s eLearning total is also down this Spring Semester, with 6,942 online students compared to 7,526 students last spring.

University spokesperson Carly Leatherwood noted last Spring Semester in an email to The Athens NEWS that the enrollment decline at OU is something that “we see trending not just in Ohio but within the national landscape as there are fewer students graduating high school.”

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