WBU Enrollment Jumps 27% in Two Years
Williams Baptist University’s enrollment is defying the odds. The pandemic was one of several challenges facing higher education this fall, but it didn’t slow enrollment growth at Williams. WBU’s on-campus enrollment for the fall semester increased more than 12 percent over the previous year, and it’s up an eye-popping 27 percent over the past two years.
Numbers increased across the board, including a record-breaking freshman class. The growth was propelled by the university’s new Williams Works initiative and strong recruiting numbers for WBU athletic teams and music groups, among other factors.
“There are many people across campus who worked very hard to bring these students to Williams, overcoming the hurdles of a very challenging year. Beyond that, it is clear to us that these incredible enrollment numbers far exceed our human abilities. Simply stated, God is blessing WBU in a mighty way, and we are both humbled and deeply thankful to Him,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of the university.
WBU’s on-campus headcount this fall was 581 undergraduate students. That number reflects a 12.4 percent jump from last fall’s figure of 517. Williams saw an even larger increase in its full-time equivalent, or FTE, which is a critical budget figure for colleges and universities. The on-campus FTE stood at 594, a 14 percent increase over last year.
WBU had 220 freshmen on campus this fall, a record in the modern history of the university, in addition to 67 students who transferred to Williams or are otherwise new to the school since last year. The total population of new students was up eight percent over last year.
Returning students also gave WBU’s enrollment a boost. The 294 on-campus returners reflect a 17 percent increase.
More students are living in WBU campus housing, as well. Williams had 422 students in its residence halls this fall, an increase of 11 percent.
“Everyone at WBU deserves a thank you for their hard work in bringing students to this institution. Vice President for Enrollment Management Angela Flippo (’93) and the admissions and financial aid staffs did amazing work. Our coaches and the directors of our music groups recruited diligently and very effectively for their programs, even with the many restrictions necessitated by the pandemic. The effort by our entire university family was tremendous,” Norman commented.
“The Williams Works initiative brought in more than 40 students in its first year, accounting for a significant share of our growth, not to mention the level of excitement it continues to generate both on and off-campus,” the president said. WBU launched Williams Works this fall, giving selected students the opportunity to work in exchange for their cost of education.
In addition to its on-campus numbers, WBU saw growth in its online programs. Williams offers two online master’s degrees in education, as well as an online bachelor’s in criminal justice. Combined, those programs accounted for 39 students this fall, a 30 percent increase.
Total enrollment moved above the 600 mark, with 619 enrolled overall at WBU. That figure, which included on-campus, online and off-campus sites, also reflected a 12 percent increase.
“The most exciting thing is what these numbers and percentages represent. These numbers reflect young men and young women with their adult lives before them, lives that can be transformed by the Christ-centered commitment and academic excellence of Williams Baptist University. It is humbling to realize the impact WBU will have on their lives, and the impact their lives will have on the world,” Norman said.
It is the second year in a row for WBU to experience double-digit percentage growth. The on-campus headcount has increased by 126 students since the fall of 2018.