A large increase in its freshman class led Williams Baptist University to a 7.7 percent jump in overall enrollment for the fall semester. Williams reported a total of 505 students enrolled this fall, up from 469 in the 2016 fall semester.
Much of the enrollment boost came from a 25.7 percent jump in the number of freshmen entering WBU for the 2017-18 school year. WBU has 142 freshmen this fall, compared to 113 in the same semester last year.
WBU also saw an increase in transfer students. Williams added 52 transfers from other colleges this fall, compared to 41 last year, for a 26.8 percent gain.
Williams President Dr. Tom Jones said the growth follows a year of aggressive actions to build enrollment at the college.
“This past year, Williams has been systematically developing and adding strategic programs that have made our nationally recognized student experience even stronger. Our enrollment management team, athletic staff, and faculty have done an extraordinary job in creating curriculum and extra-curricular components that address the needs of our region while enhancing our commitment to a Christ-centered liberal arts education,” Jones said.
The Williams president noted that the growth comes at a challenging time in higher education, when colleges and universities are struggling to maintain enrollment.
“Such an accomplishment in such a short period of time would be herculean during the best of times. Doing so in a market that is arguably unprecedented in its volatility is even more impressive. To say the least, we are very proud and pleased with the results of their outstanding effort,” he said.
Full time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, an important budget number for higher learning institutions, stands at 467 at Williams this fall. That reflects a 5.9 percent gain.
The bulk of WBU’s students are on its main campus in Walnut Ridge. Williams reported 453 students at Walnut Ridge, a 4.9 percent increase. The remainder of its students are taking classes online or at off-campus extensions.
The number of resident students at Williams also increased appreciably. WBU has 345 students living on campus this fall, which is a 13.9 percent jump.
Williams is a Christian liberal arts college in Walnut Ridge. It is owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.