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story.lead_photo.caption SAU has set enrollment records for Fall 2020. - Photo by Southern Arkansas University

— Even in the midst of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Southern Arkansas University surpassed Fall 2019 college enrollment (excluding high school enrollment) by 55 with 4,107 students compared to 4,052. Graduate enrollment increased by 11 percent with totals of 985 compared to 888. The total enrollment for Fall 2020 is 4,432.

SAU recorded the highest freshman retention rate in the University’s history at 72 percent after two years of the Retention and Completion Task Force’s work and implementation of many of their recommendations.

“We are especially excited about the enrollment in our graduate programs and the news of our freshman retention rate record,” said SAU President Trey Berry. “SAU is proud to offer a wide array of graduate options which work for students in many different stages of their lives,” he continued. “And we credit the relationships we are able to form with our students early in their career at SAU, the hard work of our faculty and staff for the many retention initiatives that have been implemented and the care shown that are reflected in these freshman retention rates.”

SAU offers more than 80 degree programs in undergraduate and graduate studies and will add a doctoral program next fall. The University continues to grow its offerings for students and refine its existing courses into best-of-class programs.

Last fall, the University recorded high enrollment numbers and had record overall retention rates, as well. Having established this strong base of students has helped SAU maintain enrollment even with the struggles presented by COVID-19. “We are prepared to face the challenges this semester is bringing with the obvious COVID-19 concerns,” Berry said. “We have developed online, face-to-face and hybrid class schedules and are equipped for students to be able to transition to livestreaming as needed.”

“We commend our faculty and staff for all of their extra effort in maintaining a nurturing environment for our students,” Berry continued, “and we also commend our students for continuing with their studies and staying the course. This year is presenting challenges, no doubt, but together, we are #Muleriderstrong and can make it our most successful year yet!”

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