- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2020

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - A 136-year-old Louisiana university has set an enrollment record in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused problems in higher education nationwide.

The record “is remarkable and especially gratifying in the midst of the global pandemic,” Northwestern State University President Chris Maggio told The Times of Shreveport.

The fall enrollment of 10,572 is up 7.7 percent over last fall, and 26 students above the previous record, set in 2004 - the year before selective admission policies took effect, according to a school news release.

Freshman enrollment has grown by 31% over the past three years, the statement said. In addition, 74.6% percent of last year’s freshmen are back as sophomores, up from 68.8% a year earlier.

“The university is attracting and retaining more students with greater potential for success than ever before because of its outstanding and innovative academic programs, positive student experiences and the school’s vibrant, family-like atmosphere,” said Maggio, president since 2017.

He did not mention whether enrollment among in-state students has risen sharply - something noted by schools in other states.

Maggio also noted that the school received an unprecedented $4.7 million in private gifts and matching funds for scholarships and other programs in the first six months of this year. Only extended capital campaigns have brought more, he said.

“That private funding for scholarships assisted the university in attracting more high school graduates with strong academic potential and in retaining larger numbers of students,” Maggio said.

In addition to the main campus in Natchitoches, Northwestern State has campuses in Shreveport and Alexandria and other sites which include online classes.

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