Ferrum College Sees Enrollment Surge Under Leadership of First Woman President

For Immediate Release:                                                 
August 27, 2007    

Dr. Jennifer L. Braaten will celebrate the beginning of her sixth year as the first woman president of Ferrum College by welcoming the largest group of new students to Ferrum in over twenty years. The large class of 600 new students joins a total enrollment of 1,200. New student enrollment is up 50% in two years. Braaten says the entire campus is excited and energized at the prospect of so many young men and women embarking on their college careers at Ferrum and insists on sharing credit for this accomplishment with Ferrum College faculty and staff. “The Ferrum College that you see today, with our unparalleled facilities and outstanding academic, athletic and experiential learning programs, is the direct result of the hard work, dedication and can-do spirit of the entire campus community, a spirit that was clearly evident to me when I arrived at Ferrum in July of 2002.”

During a time of challenges in the admissions environment for many private colleges in non-urban areas, Ferrum is one of the few such institutions experiencing an increase in enrollment. “People are really starting to talk about how great Ferrum is!” Gina Woods, Director of Admissions said. “The college implemented a new recruitment plan two years ago with the assistance of John Dysart of The Dysart Group, a higher education consulting firm. The plan included more direct communication with prospective students highlighting new initiatives at the college that have taken place since Dr. Braaten became president.”

Dr. Braaten is equally enthusiastic about the increase in the numbers of returning students. “Retention represents an important element of our strategy of excellence. Just as exciting as our new enrollment increase is the fact that our current students will be returning to Ferrum in record numbers.”

Other significant milestones in Ferrum College history have occurred throughout Braaten’s initial five years, including completion of FerrumPlus!, a major building and renovation project, a nearly 37% growth in the College’s endowment, due in large part to dramatic increases in charitable and alumni giving. Dr. Lee King, Vice President of Institutional Advancement says, “In the past five years, our alumni and friends have become re-engaged with Ferrum in some exciting ways. Our external donors are excited about the direction Ferrum is going and are making their own contributions to our success.”

The “bricks and mortar” aspect of the groundwork for the enrollment increase was laid when the College received a $250,000 planning grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission in 2003 that was subsequently leveraged into a $16 million + USDA Rural Development construction loan, the largest loan of its kind ever awarded to an institution of higher education. FerrumPLUS!, made possible by the USDA loan as well as generous gifts from benefactors, has changed the face of the campus. Information systems upgrades, including a cell phone tower erected on College property in 2003 and wireless technology in virtually every classroom, office building, study area, and residence hall have also been part of this effort.

For more information about Ferrum College and FerrumPLUS!, contact the Public Relations Office at (540) 365-4300.

Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor’s degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges. For more information on Ferrum, please visit www.ferrum.edu.

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