The University of Texas at Tyler saw its enrollment decrease this fall, but experienced record retention.

Overall enrollment was down 5 percent, falling from 10,334 in fall 2018 to 9,810 this semester, according to a news release from the school. The college saw its attendance hit an all time high of 10,527 in fall 2017.

Following a record freshman class last fall, the university retained 76 percent of that class, a 10 percent increase in retention over the previous year, according to the news release.

UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell said growing the student body has not been the college’s priority, as it has dedicated more time and resources to improving retention and graduation rates.

Just under 3,000 students graduated in the 2018-19 academic year, which represented nearly 30 percent of the total student body.

“I’m proud of the successes achieved by our faculty and staff. With these retention and graduation initiatives in place, moving forward, we are poised to focus on our growth strategy,” Tidwell said. “We are now working to increase the educational opportunities for more East Texans and with our new Top 25 percent auto admission policy we anticipate organic growth for years to come.”

Tidwell recently announced the college had changed its policy from automatically admitting students in the top 10 percent of their high school class, expanding it to include the top 25 percent.

“Retention of our freshmen was a special focus during the last academic year,” Provost Dr. Amir Mirmiran said. “We implemented multiple retention strategies that included student engagement, NCAA Division II athletics, affordability and mentorship initiatives, among other activities. We’re pleased with the results of those efforts.”

The college attributed the decline in enrollment to the large number of students graduating last year.

Some graduate programs did experience strong enrollment this semester, including the Fisch College of Pharmacy hitting a record 329 students, on the heels of its first graduating class last May.

The college also launched a new Chemical Engineering program this semester.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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