FORT KENT, Maine — Enrollment at the University of Maine at Fort Kent is burgeoning this fall. Thanks to an institution-wide emphasis on student success, UMFK is reporting enrollment numbers that are up across the board.
• Total student enrollment stands at 1,176; an increase of 8.8 percent from the fall 2011 figure of 1,080
• Residence halls are at capacity levels
• The number of returning students has increased by 9.8 percent
• New enrollments of freshmen, transfers, and online students have increased 18 percent from fall 2011, and more than 25 percent since fall 2010
University President, Wilson G. Hess, attributes the growth to two years of concentrated effort by the UMFK faculty and staff.
“We deliberately chose to focus on high-impact educational practices – learning communities, especially for first-year students, undergraduate research, and experiential education.”
“For example,” says Hess, “Environmental Science faculty instituted a first-year biology course in conjunction with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that had students isolating DNA during their first year in college! Other students built a greenhouse to conduct experiments on extending the growing season for vegetables, as has been done in southern and central Maine.” UMFK also has partnered with the Maine Department of Conservation to become the sole provider of wildland forest-fire training in the state.
In 2011, UMFK was chosen by the prestigious John N. Gardiner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education as part of a select group of colleges and universities to join a national select cohort to carefully examine and revise its Foundations of Excellence for first-year college students.
In addition to traditional-aged students, says Hess, UMFK has reached out to place bound and working adults through its eleven online degree offerings, as well as to high school students with its Early College High School program, which is based on a model developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
UMFK has not seen enrollment figures in the 1,200 vicinity since the fall of 2007 when its enrollment census number reached 1,269.
Recently when the Princeton Review selected UMFK as a top Northeastern College, it was on the strength of student reviews.
“Students understand that the commitment to student success here is real and they vote with their feet,” Hess concluded.