Record enrollment speaks to NSU’s vitality in hard times

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Dr. Chris Maggio was formally invested as the 19th president of Northwestern State University Sept. 15, donning the presidential robes of the university for the first time during a ceremony steeped in academic and university traditions. Student Government Association President Otha “Tre” Nelson of Baton Rouge, left, and Dr. Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System and immediate past president of NSU, right, presented the robes to Maggio, who has served the university in numerous capacities since 1988.

Reports from Northwestern State University of an all-time high enrollment this fall and record levels of private financial support for the school in recent months have created a surge of optimism and excitement at NSU and across the community and region.

Reports from Northwestern State University of an all-time high enrollment this fall and record levels of private financial support for the school in recent months have created a surge of optimism and excitement at NSU and across the community and region.Good news for higher education has been scarce in Louisiana over the past decade as state funding for universities fell and tuition costs soared.  So Northwestern’s record enrollment reflects the vitality of the university even in hard times.Northwestern has l0,572 students this fall.

That surpasses its previous record of 10,546 in 2004, the year before the school went to selective admissions.  This year’s enrollment spurt of 7.7 percent was the largest year-to-year gain at NSU in a quarter century.Momentum toward this impressive enrollment milestone has been building as the university experienced four straight years of gains in student registration, and it is noteworthy that the enrollment count went over the top in Dr. Chris Maggio’s first year as president.

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In 30 years at Northwestern, Maggio has at different times been at the forefront of recruitment, student experiences, and alumni and fund-raising activities.  All of those initiatives helped provide the impetus for the enrollment record.Northwestern has also expanded and fine-tuned its academic programs to make them more relevant to students and employers, upgraded facilities, and focused increased attention on advancing and augmenting the superb reputation of the university. Alumni and other donors provided $4.7 million in private and matching funds in the first six months of the year, largely as an expression of support for Maggio.  Scholarships created by those gifts have enhanced student recruitment and retention.With freshman enrollment up by more than 30 percent in the past three years and retention rates increasing, NSU in positioned for continued growth.  Comments in the media from new students  have underscored their favorable impression of the university.  They talk about a caring faculty, family-type atmosphere, close knit community and opportunities to be involved and pursue their dreams.Northwestern has clearly become a preferred university for students seeking a vibrant atmosphere and pathways to successful careers, and the loyalty and allegiance of its thousands of alumni and supporters has never been greater.   With Dr. Maggio’s magnetism, an outstanding faculty and staff, excellent academic and complementary programs,  a positive image and its location in a warm, captivating  community, Northwestern seems headed for the best and brightest days in its 133-year history.