The University of Saint Francis opened its academic year with important gains in new student enrollment, university President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, announced at the Founder’s Day opening convocation and Mass on Wednesday, August 26 at the USF main campus.
In its 125th anniversary year, the university graduated its largest class in decades in May and reported solid enrollment numbers for fall 2015. The number of new incoming freshmen at USF grew to 355, up 41 students or 13 percent from 2014. In large part due to the graduating class, the university’s first-day enrollment total was 2,257, or 2.2 percent below 2014’s figure of 2,308.
New academic programs helped to fuel the freshman increase including Criminology, Nutrition, Finance, Marketing and other business-related programs. In addition, 18 students from various majors joined the USF Marching Band. “Our new programs are attracting students. However, we still need to get the word out about the strong opportunity for Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) careers. RMI degrees lead to high-paying jobs and come with paid internships,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Prall. The university introduced RMI in 2014 at the request of regional insurance leaders to address a talent shortage in the industry.
In her remarks, Sister Elise spoke about the university’s Franciscan value for 2015-2016, which is “Reverence the unique dignity of each person.” She also encouraged the USF community to read and study Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, in which he calls for all people to care for the planet and to do so within every discipline taught at USF. Sister Elise also spoke about the university’s accomplishments over the past year, the current enrollment numbers and upcoming events, including 125th anniversary events through the end of 2015.
Regarding renovations, $9.3 million of the $12.3 million goal for the USF Downtown Campus project is committed, with construction now underway. Bishop D’Arcy Stadium is set to begin the 2015 football season with a brand new turf surface and work is nearly complete to improvements at the Hutzell Athletic Center.
Founder’s Day is an annual tradition celebrating new and returning students and honoring the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration who arrived from Germany in 1875 and founded St. Francis College in 1890 in Lafayette, Ind. They subsequently moved the institution to the Bass estate in Fort Wayne in 1944. This year, students will pursue degrees in more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs.