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LSUS’s growth linked to surges in both graduate and undergraduate enrollment

by Minden Press-Herald

SHREVEPORT – Colleges across the nation are facing strong headwinds from falling enrollment to decreasing resources as many institutions navigate through the post COVID-19 pandemic era.

But LSUS chancellor Dr. Robert Smith shared a simple message Wednesday at the annual Kemp Forum, which serves as the “state of the university” address.

LSUS is growing – and fast.

While spring enrollment numbers aren’t finalized, LSUS expects its enrollment to cross the 10,000 mark for the first time in school history.

The school’s Fall 2023 enrollment increased 12 percent year-over-year to 9,736.

“Students are looking for the programs we have,” Smith said. “Many universities across the nation are dropping programs that students aren’t taking anymore, but we have exactly the programs that students want to take.

“We have a great mix of programs that meet workforce needs. It’s not just programs that students want, it’s programs that also lead to well-paying jobs. That helps the Shreveport-Bossier community.”

LSUS’s most popular programs are the master’s in business administration and the master’s in healthcare administration, which total around 4,000 and 1,000 students, respectively.

The University started undergraduate programs in occupational physiology and nonprofit administration to add to its academic inventory with two master’s programs in psychology (applied behavior analysis and counseling rehabilitation) awaiting approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

“These programs address students’ needs as well as the needs of our workforce and our community and region,” said Dr. Helen Taylor, LSUS Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. “As with all of our programs, these programs are based on documented workforce development needs and address the skill gaps in our region.”

Proposals are being explored for six other undergraduate degrees.

While increased graduate school enrollment (up 15 percent) has driven much of the growth, LSUS’s undergraduate enrollment also went up more than three percent to 2,161 students.

And it’s not just head count that’s trending upward – LSUS grew its total credit hours by more than 10 percent in Fall 2023.

The University isn’t just driving more students through the door, it’s being recognized for servicing those students once they’ve enrolled.

LSUS received the highest marks in the state in the second annual Economic Mobility Index, which measures how effectively institutions assist low-income students to improve their socioeconomic status by graduating into well-paying jobs. LSUS ranked in the top 20 percent nationally in the study conducted by the organization Third Way.

The University was also one of 11 colleges chosen to participate in an inaugural cohort to transform the early college experience, which is when the highest percentage of students drop out.

A centralized student advising hub, an active Student Success Center and a robust food pantry to help combat student hunger are a few ways that LSUS is removing barriers to student success.

“There’s a campus-wide focus on the success of our students,” Smith said. “It begins by having dedicated faculty and staff.

“About 60 percent of our students are first-generation, which means that neither parent has a four-year degree. And we focus on the success of these students specifically to help them navigate college life.”

Experiential learning is a key component to an LSUS education.

Recent examples include digital arts students designing marketing materials for the nonprofit Providence House and the upcoming hiring of LSUS students to train as cybersecurity analysts in the on-campus Security Operations Center, which protects LSUS’s networks from cyberattacks.

LSUS extends educational opportunities to younger children through summer camps (1,205 campers in a variety of camps this past summer) and by hosting academic events like the Regional Social Studies Fair, the Spelling Bee and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Construction sounds are commonplace on campus recently as a new science annex building is underway. Other upcoming construction projects include exterior beautification of the science building and the technology center.

Private funding supported the construction of the Business Engagement Center inside the Business and Education building, which will open later this spring.

Private entities such as the LSUS Foundation and The Noel Foundation funded new endowed scholarships and new endowed professorships, continuing their critical support to LSUS’s mission.

The annual Kemp Forum is made possible by an endowment from Dr. George A. Kemp and his wife Rita, which financially supports the Kemp Forum and provides this annual update to the community.

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