Texas A&M University announced a new point of pride Thursday: Fall enrollment, based on preliminary figures, stands at 53,219, a record for the state and ahead of the University of Texas for the first time.
The surge from 50,227 students last fall is a result of the acquisition of a law school in Fort Worth and larger-than-expected freshman enrollment, said A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.
UT’s enrollment of 52,076, also a preliminary figure, is just shy of last year’s 52,186.
A&M has been on a roll in other categories as well. The university raised more than $740 million in donations and pledges during the past 12 months. And its football team has racked up impressive records — 11-2 last season and 3-1 thus far this season — that have fueled donations as well as a certain Aggie swagger.
“Our goal is not to be the largest university, but we are obviously proud that for the past several years more and more young men and women have come to recognize the excellent education and experiences that Texas A&M offers,” Loftin said.
A&M had been aiming for 8,700 entering freshmen this year, up from last year’s 8,139. But 9,710 students decided to enroll; that was 47 percent of those who were offered admission, compared with last year’s “yield” of 44 percent, Loftin said.
“That was unexpected,” he said. “We did not expect that much yield.”
The A&M University School of Law, formerly the private Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, added 770 students to the university’s total.
Although 53,219 is A&M’s enrollment total for purposes of reporting to the state’s higher education agency, the university touted a much higher figure, 58,809, in a news release Thursday. Loftin said that figure includes a marine-oriented campus in Galveston, an engineering-focused campus in Qatar and a health science center with multiple locations in Texas that until recently was a separate A&M System unit. But, because those units have separate budgets, they don’t count for state enrollment purposes.
In any event, officials said they expect A&M to move up at least one or two spots nationally from its sixth-place enrollment ranking last fall.
Although the figures are preliminary, the certified numbers — expected in December — are expected to be pretty close, said Dominic Chavez, a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
UT’s highest enrollment, and the previous state record, was 52,261 in 2002.
“Student success is our top priority, and all of our enrollment management strategies have that starting point in mind — not overall size,” said Tara Doolittle, a spokeswoman for UT.
Meanwhile, Texas State University reported a record enrollment of 35,568, up from 34,225 a year ago. It marks the 16th consecutive year that Texas State has set a record for its enrollment.