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Record-Breaking Enrollment Sets UM Apart in 2023

By Clara Turnage

University Communications

University of Mississippi students celebrate the fall semester with selfies on campus. The university welcomed its largest freshman class in history this fall, as well as its largest enrollment ever, 24,710 students across its seven campuses. Photo by Srijita Chattopadhyay/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi enrolled 5,241 freshman students for the fall 2023 semester, the largest freshman class at any university in the state’s history. 

Bolstered by this record incoming class, a university record of 24,710 students are enrolled across the University of Mississippi‘s seven campuses. This is 1,759 more than last year, an increase of 7.7%.

“It is an incredibly momentous time at the university, especially as more and more students are choosing Ole Miss to build their personal legacies,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “This fall’s record-high enrollment is a testament to all we have to offer students and families, including an outstanding value, academic excellence and strong student support programs.” 

As the university celebrates 175 years as Mississippi’s flagship university, Ole Miss is drawing more students to its halls. This fall marks the third consecutive year that the university has seen enrollment growth, despite the national trend of enrollment decreases seen in recent years.

Chancellor Glenn Boyce. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The university’s freshman class grew 16.9%, or more than 750 students, making it the largest incoming class in state and university history.

The 2023 class includes 1,598 Mississippi residents, an increase of 293 since the fall of 2020, with representatives of 76 of the state’s 82 counties.

“We are known far and wide for a campus culture that nurtures a sense of belonging, cultivates a vibrant student life and offers countless life-changing opportunities,” Boyce said.

“This is especially evident in how our dedicated and talented faculty contribute to the draw of our academic reputation and pour into how our students thrive with support and personal mentoring. It is rewarding to see so many students and families recognize Ole Miss as a welcoming place to learn, grow and excel.” 

The university’s retention rate remains high, with 88% of students returning to continue their studies in fall 2023. The retention rate demonstrates the effectiveness of the staff and success programs dedicated to supporting students throughout their undergraduate studies. 

“As the university continues to enroll record numbers of new freshmen, retention rates are also at all-time highs,” said Kyle Ellis, director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience. “The university is experiencing more second- and third-year students enrolled on the main campus than ever before.” 

The Class of 2027

University of Mississippi journalism professor Mark Dolan (right) leads a class in Farley Hall. The university has enjoyed a surge in enrollments, setting a university and state record with 24,710 students across its seven campuses this fall. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The university’s incoming freshman have maintained high academic standards, with an average ACT score of 24.5 and an average GPA of 3.56.

Nonresident students came to Oxford from more than 46 states and 32 countries. 

“Under the empowering leadership and bold vision of Chancellor Boyce, our record enrollment highlights the fact that the University of Mississippi has become a true destination for talented students from throughout our great state, nation and world,” said Eduardo Prieto, vice chancellor for enrollment management. “It is also a tribute to our entire greater campus community and passionate alumni, who all give so much in selfless service to all our current and future students and families.

“Finally, it is a true honor and blessing to work with the outstanding professionals and servant leaders who constitute our enrollment management division.” 

The freshman class includes: 

  • 80 valedictorians
  • 66 salutatorians
  • 83 student body presidents
  • 95 Eagle Scouts
  • 8 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients
  • 37 National Merit finalists 

This fall, the university enrolled 765 new Provost Scholars Program students. The program, established in 2010, provides high-achieving students with special programming and other academic opportunities. 

The freshman class also includes 17 recipients of the Stamps Scholarship, one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious merit scholarships, funded through the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation. 

“The growth in the freshman class is a testament to the quality of the programs offered, and the value and opportunities that our degree programs afford students once they finish,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The academic credentials of the incoming class indicate that they are well prepared to take advantage of the outstanding educational experiences offered and had choices as to where they wanted to go to college.

“I am glad so many of them chose to pursue their education at our university.”

Record-Setting Enrollment

Bolstered by the freshman class growth, enrollment on the Oxford and regional campuses surpasses the university’s previous enrollment record established in 2016.

Leigh Holley, associate professor of nursing and assistant dean for School of Nursing’s Oxford Instructional Site, works with students at the South Oxford Center. The university is expanding its nursing program in Oxford next year to include a traditional bachelor’s degree program. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The university’s minority enrollment totals 4,884, a 4.6% increase year over year. African American student enrollment is 2,235, or 10.3% of overall enrollment. Hispanic/Latino students make up 5.4%, or 1,175 students. 

“It is apparent that there is something special about the University of Mississippi, given that we are seeing increases in enrollment when so many other universities and colleges across the country are seeing declines,” said Lee Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which saw the highest number of enrollees this fall among the university’s college and schools. “I believe one of the things that makes us special is that the liberal arts make up the core of every degree program on our campus.

“So, whether a student is earning a degree in one of the college’s 36 majors or from any of the other schools on campus, our students graduate with strong communication and problem-solving skills that will serve them well no matter what career path they choose to take.” 

Medical Center Success

The University of Mississippi Medical Center also enjoys continued success, with 3,114 enrolled students in the fall of 2023.

“It’s reassuring to see so many students dedicating their lives to the care of patients – patients who will benefit from the knowledge those students gain here at the state’s only academic medical center,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“By enrolling in our schools, these future caregivers and scientists are showing their determination to meet the challenges of providing quality health care for generations to come, and we are proud to be able to help them pursue their calling.” 

The university’s nursing program is poised to reach more students as it expands its Oxford campus offerings to include a traditional four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program next year.

A Growing Campus

To support enrollment growth, the university will construct three new campus residence halls on the former site of Kincannon Hall, which was recently razed. The new construction will allow for almost 1,000 more student occupants on campus.

The university is in the back half of the largest single construction project in the Oxford campus’ history: the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation. With the goal of becoming one of the nation’s top facilities for STEM education, the building includes 202,000 square feet of teaching space and laboratories and is set to open next fall.

“The trajectory of our university and brand continues to grow nationally,” Boyce said. “We are attracting high-caliber students who arrive prepared to excel and eager to reach their best potential.

“Through a deep commitment to student success efforts, our students are benefitting from the tremendous foundation of knowledge, skills and opportunities we offer.”

More than 5,000 freshmen gather in The Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss in August for the university’s annual freshman convocation. The freshman class is the largest in the university’s history. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

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