Minority student enrollment at all-time high

Southern Oregon University's enrollment is up 3.4 percent this spring from a year ago, the university has announced.

SOU has 5,240 students enrolled this term, a full-time equivalent of 3,783, said spokesman Jim Beaver on Monday. The increase in full-time equivalent from a year ago was 1.1 percent.

The count also brought SOU to a 13 percent enrollment of minority students, its highest ever and one that "makes us proud, relative to other universities in the state system," said Admissions Director Mark Bottorff.

SOU has been struggling to get above the 5,000 mark, with some room to spare, since a big state budget cut several years ago forced tuition hikes and dropped enrollment under that mark.

The increase in students during this academic year is a result of stepped-up advising, tracking and enrollment of current students, said Bottorff, as well as more intense recruitment in the region, including with the area's Hispanic and American Indian population.

The $20 million Higher Education Center in Medford, a joint program with Rogue Community College, experienced a 36.5 percent increase in enrollment from its opening last fall and, said Bottorff, "is doing an incredible job of serving an additional layer of our community that we haven't been able to serve in Ashland.