The university’s current enrollment stands at 1,232 students, an increase from last year’s 1,080 students at the same time. President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood said he anticipates 1,300 students to be enrolled following the drop-add period.
Isherwood said in an interview Thursday that this is the most significant enrollment increase the university has ever seen.
“It comes at a time when many other institutions are not seeing that kind of growth,” Isherwood said. “I think it really speaks to the quality of programs and to the extent that we’re addressing, in many ways, students’ interests and student needs within our programs.”
Isherwood said meeting the 11 percent growth in student enrollment is important to the university and the school will be doing so with the addition of a new residence hall, athletic fieldhouse and the Ken White Music Center.
“This year, we’ll be the largest music program at any private institution in the state of Georgia,” Isherwood said. “That’s going to be a new challenge and a sense of excitement for us.”
Isherwood said student tuition will increase about 2.5 percent this year.
“We’re hopeful that we can keep that kind of small increase in the future,” Isherwood said.
Hubbard Hall, a proposed residence hall, will go before the Board of Trustees for approval with plans to break ground on the facility in about a month, Isherwood said. The additional housing is greatly needed on the campus, as 25 students will live with three people in two-person dormitories this fall.
Isherwood said the number of students living three-to-a-room will likely decrease after the first semester.
“We have some students who graduate every semester and probably, with the students who graduate in December, there will be a sufficient number of students who leave and we’ll be back to having everyone in a double (room),” Isherwood said.
Isherwood said the residence halls have a capacity of 605 students with 630 living in dormitories this fall. The 25 in triple rooms received a discounted rate, Isherwood said, noting the rooms are still a “very good size and very convenient.”
The school will also see 140 football players on campus to begin practicing for the team’s first game scheduled for the 2013 season.
“There will be a lot of new students, a lot of new buildings, 10 new full-time faculty and a lot of excitement,” Isherwood said.
Another new addition for the fall semester is the master’s degree program in business administration that is now available at the Woodstock campus. Additionally, the school will offer an online program in criminal justice with a new class starting every 10 weeks.
In January, the university will begin an online bachelor’s degree program in health administration.
Last year, the university raised approximately $6 million in its capital funds campaign in the spring, with a goal of raising $22 million by 2012.
The funds will be used in part to build a science building officials intend to begin construction on this fall. Isherwood said the building will be available for students in the fall of 2013.
“It’s an exceptionally busy time right now,” Isherwood said. “I think there is such a positive feeling on campus about all of the wonderful development due to the hard work of faculty and staff and really the spirit students bring to this institution.”
Stephen Karafa, a senior at Reinhardt and new student orientation coordinator, said he’s most excited about the new athletic fieldhouse and future football stadium.
The Villa Rica native said he plans to return as an alumni for the football games to cheer on the Eagles.
“I have been here three years and its exciting to be here and see the culture of change,” Karafa said.
The 20-year-old, who lives in East Apartments on campus, said the three-to-a-room situation for some has not produced any complaints so far.
“We’re all excited to be here and be apart of a historic moment for the university as the largest class,” Karafa said.