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Officials concerned over enrollment drop at U of M Rochester

The four-year school opened in 2009 and grew for several years, but had a big drop in freshmen last year — and anticipates lower numbers in the coming school year.

Officials at the new University of Minnesota Rochester campus are concerned about a steep drop in incoming freshmen that began last year and is continuing for the upcoming school year.

The Rochester Post Bulletin says that the four-year university in downtown Rochester opened in 2009 with a freshman class of 57. It grew each year until the peak in 2013 of 197 freshmen.

But it dropped 25 percent in 2014 to 146 freshmen and the numbers for the coming year are below projections, although they won’t give specific numbers until the school year begins in the fall.

UMR Chief of Staff Jay Hesley told the paper: “The enrollment is not what we expected this year. We do know that they’re down.”

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UMR officials said in the past that they hoped to grow the incoming class each year, eventually reaching 250. That would then give them 1,000 students enrolled in the Bachelor of Sciences in the Health Sciences program.

With the decline, the university is revamping its admissions department and has not renewed an unspecified number of faculty contracts.

Hesley told the paper that it was unclear whether last year’s drop was an aberration, but another decline in the coming year makes it clear “there is something else there.”

“We always knew that we would have to go to a national model,” Hesley said. “We always knew that was what we needed to do to become the institution we wanted to be. Now, we know we need to start reaching out to that broader model.”