By ASSOCIATED PRESS, Flathead Beacon
Montana State University is reporting record enrollment this fall, while the University of Montana says a record graduating class this spring cut into its enrollment figures.
The MSU registrar’s office says 14,660 students are attending classes this fall, an increase of 507 students over last fall. The freshman class is the university’s largest with 2,710 students, compared with 2,669 last year.
The University of Montana registrar’s office says the main campus has an enrollment of 12,476, a decline of 390 students.
Missoula College, the former College of Technology, has 2,467 students enrolled, a decline of 336 students.
UM interim vice president for integrated communications Peggy Kuhr tells the Missoulian there is no way of knowing whether enrollment was affected by the publicity over investigations into the university’s handling of reports of sexual assault.
“We know there are a lot of factors that go into where students choose to attend college,” Kuhr said. “There are complex reasons when enrollments go up, and complex reasons when enrollments go down.”
The NCAA and the U.S. Justice and Education departments are investigating UM amid allegations the school and police mishandled at least 11 reports of sexual assault dating back to 2010. School and police officials have said they are working with investigators.
The alleged assaults have generated widespread publicity because of links to the football team. Suspended quarterback Jordan Johnson has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he raped an acquaintance in February, while former running back Beau Donaldson has pleaded guilty to the rape of a friend two years ago.
“Yes, last year was a difficult year for us,” Kuhr said. “We know people had questions about sexual assaults and the investigations, and we’re working hard to get the word out about how we’re addressing those issues.”
In Bozeman, student enrollment has now increased six of the past seven years.
This year’s freshman class is the university’s largest with 2,710 students.