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First-year OU students walk across the Oxbow Bridge on Richland Avenue on their way to the Student Organization Fair on College Green earlier this fall semester (2019).

Ohio University this fall semester saw a significant enrollment decline compared to fall semester 2018, dropping about 1,800 students.

This is the third year in a row that the university has seen a decline in its total fall enrollment number, with decreases yet again on both the Athens campus and regional campuses.

In a news release issued Wednesday, however, OU put a positive spin on things, noting that this year’s freshman cohort had a “record-high grad point average and the highest proportion of students in the top 10 percent of their classes.”

The fall freshman class had an average GPA of 3.55 on a 4.0 scale, and 20.3 percent of the students came from the top 10 percent of their class, up from 17.6 percent last year, Chaden Djalali, OU’s executive vice president and provost, said in the release.

OU reported its total enrollment was 32,637 students as of the 15th day of the 2019 fall semester this year, compared to 34,443 students as of the same time in fall semester 2019. The Athens campus total (including undergraduate, graduate and medical students) this fall semester is 19,856 students, down from 20,815 students last fall semester. This is the first enrollment number below 20,000 on the Athens campus since the 2005-06 year when it was 19,877. (For the historical record, see this chart on OU's website.)

Prior to the 2017 fall semester, the university had experienced record total enrollment growth each fall semester since at least 2009.

Some other statistics as of the 15th day of OU’s 2019 fall semester, provided by OU spokesperson Jim Sabin, are below:

• OU’s regional campus enrollment: 5,539, compared to 5,990 students last year.

• Freshman class total: 3,671, compared to 3,980 students last year.

• Graduate student enrollment (including online): 5,399, compared to 5,154 students last year.

• Medical school enrollment: 979, compared to 982 last year.

• Online enrollment: 7,242, compared to 7,638 last year.

According to the OU release, the freshman class contains the first full cohort of the “OHIO Honors Program,” which includes nearly 350 students. Creation of the program was one of Ohio University President Duane Nellis’ strategic priorities he outlined in 2017, and essentially serves as a way to allow a larger number of students to attend honors classes (it complements OU’s Honors Tutorial College program and doesn’t replace it).

“I’m excited to see just how much this incoming cohort of students, and all of our students, can accomplish during their time here at Ohio University and beyond,” Nellis said in the release. “These students have remarkable promise, and our collective goal at Ohio University is to provide them with the support and opportunities they need to reach their greatest potential.”

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