Traditional undergraduate, graduate enrollment strong at FPU

Traditional undergraduate enrollment increases by 10 percent

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Fresno Pacific University is the Mennonite Brethren institution located in Fresno, Calif. with regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield.

A healthy increase in traditional undergraduate students for the 2023-24 academic year is a heartening sign for Fresno Pacific University.

Success among traditional undergraduates (TUG)—generally those 18-22 years of age coming to FPU straight out of high school or transferring from a community college—and graduate students lessen the impact of a decline in bachelor’s degree completion students (DC).

The TUG figure is historic. “This significant enrollment increase marks the end of a 10-year decline in traditional undergraduate enrollment—a milestone to celebrate!” says Brad Camilleri, vice president of enrollment management.

TUG enrollment is up 10 percent for a total of 827 in 2023, and the number of graduate students, FPU’s largest population, is up 1 percent to 1,305 (of whom 110 are enrolled at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary). Of those TUG students, 786 are full time and 24 are part time. DC decreased 21 percent to 787 students. Overall enrollment for the fall of 2023-24 is 2,919, 4 percent below the same time in 2022-23, when total enrollment was 3,029: 749 TUG, 992 DC and 1,288 grad (111 seminary).

Students in TUG and seminary programs study at the main FPU campus at 1717 S. Chestnut Ave., Fresno. DC and non-seminary grad students attend class at one of four regional campuses in Merced, North Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield. 

Looking toward improvement ahead

A look at how many credits each student is taking (known as full time equivalency or FTE) also provide cause for optimism.

“This creates a more accurate comparison year to year,” Camilleri says.

Over the past two years, in the fall of 2022 and 2021, FTE at FPU decreased by 16 percent and 18 percent from the prior year, respectively. For 2023, however, FTE is only 1 percent below last year (the equivalent of only 25 fewer students).

“This means we have succeeded in stopping the rapid FTE decline we have experienced since 2020,” he says. “We should celebrate this reality and build upon it. We need to continue this momentum in the coming year to see enrollment growth in the spring and fall of 2024.”

Headcounts over this time parallel this trend. 

Strategies for future succes

FPU admission staff have plans for further growth.

“In the traditional undergraduate area, our best opportunity is to improve our service to incoming transfer students,” Camilleri says. “We believe we can improve our transfer-friendliness this year.”

Degree completion has seen the most significant decline since 2019, thanks in large part to enrollment declines at community colleges, which are the source of most DC students.

“We must renew our programs and the accompanying student services to create a coherent and clear path of study for the adult students of the Central Valley,” Camilleri says. “This is our greatest opportunity to meet the needs of our incredible adult students.”

While graduate and seminary enrollment grew in FTE as well as in headcount, there is always room for improvement. Currently leading the way are programs in business and education, including school psychology and school counseling, but “FPU has other programs that present opportunities for growth if we can streamline our processes, services and offerings,” Camilleri said. The masters in marriage and family therapy (MFT) program continues to lead seminary enrollment.

Fresno Pacific University remains committed to creating academic and cocurricular programs, policies and services that serve the students of the Central Valley. “We are uniquely positioned to advance the kingdom of God in Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno and Merced and all the communities in the Valley and beyond,” Camilleri says.

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