U of M graduates largest class in school history

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The University of Memphis is talking about some big milestones--graduating larger classes, increasing enrollment, and freezing tuition.

The university is expecting to continue looking at ways to get so-called non-traditional students in the classroom. That includes those who went to school but didn't finish their degree.

"We want to enhance accessibility to the University of Memphis," Provost Dr. Karen Weddle-West said.

Last Saturday, the U of M awarded 2,576 degrees at its May commencement. It's a large number, yes, but it's also a milestone--the biggest graduating class in school history.

Those students graduated just days before the university also announced it would freeze tuition for the next school year.

Tuition has increased roughly 2 percent annually over the past four years. Contrast that with an average 7 percent increase annually in the decade before.

"If we can continually increase retention, which we've done successfully, then we can keep tuition at a relatively low rate," Weddle-West said.

She said the university is also seeing admissions and enrollment increases.

It's the result of work targeting segments of the area's population, like the university's finish line program which seeks out students through university research who've at least completed 90 hours but not finished their degree.

Weddle-West said often the university finds that the students only need a semester's worth of work to finish and graduate.

"We use an individualized, high-touch concierge approach that requires that we reach out to every student," she said.

The university's certainly come a long way since its days as Memphis State.

Weddle-West said they now have the most online course offerings in the state and are always looking at new approaches for students.

The tuition freeze isn't official yet, but it's expected after a vote by the university's board of trustees on June 6.

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