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A view of the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. (Image courtesy of DWU)

DWU projects highest-ever enrollment

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell is projecting a record enrollment.

There are 873 enrolled students on campus during this first week of classes, according to a news release issued today by the university. There are 170 freshmen.

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If the overall number holds, it would surpass the private Mitchell institution's all-time record of 850 students in 1966. President Amy Novak gives credit to the university staff, as well as the new science facility, which was dedicated Thursday.

“We have a solid incoming freshman class, but we are just as excited to see that our returning students have enjoyed their experience here, which is reflected in our record retention numbers,” Novak said in a news release.

Final counts for enrollment and retention won’t be available until next month, after the final drop date, but going by current numbers, DWU’s retention of freshman to sophomore students has reached 77 percent. That is a jump from five years ago when it was 57 percent. Retention is calculated by the number of the previous year’s freshmen who return as sophomores.

“The entire campus has come together to bring that number to where it should be,” Novak said.

She said the student life department has taken a lead on giving students activities throughout the week, encouraging students to stay on campus on weekends and get involved; coaches have recruited student-athletes who want to succeed in education as much as they do on the court or field; and the university has been more intentional about giving students opportunities to meet and volunteer with staff and faculty and build relationships.

“We also have a brand new science facility that we dedicated Thursday, and considering the majority of our student body is majoring in the sciences or medical fields, we know we have gained some students the past two years with the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center as a draw, and retained some students this year who were attracted by the state-of-the-art facilities," Novak said.

DWU has also launched a new M.B.A. in strategic leadership and expanded its degree completion program for registered nurses with associate’s degrees.

The university dedicated the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center on Thursday with an estimated 650 people in attendance. The $11.5 million facility is four stories, 48,000 square feet, and has chemistry labs, biology labs, research labs and four nursing simulation labs, as well as classrooms and faculty offices.

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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