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One-hundred-forty-years old, and still going strong.

As students return for the start of the 2011-2012 academic year at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the state’s third-largest, second-fastest-growing institution projects enrollment totals above its 2010-11 record mark of more-than 13,600 students.

“Our institution has faced and overcome many challenges in its 140-year history,” Chancellor Richard Wells said. “Our continued enrollment growth is a testament not only to UW Oshkosh’s endurance through periods of economic and societal turbulence but, more specifically, to the commitment of our students, faculty and staff to pursuing and providing the type of education that brings stability and strength to our state, region and nation. We produce talented, broadly educated, technically skilled graduates for the new era.”

UW Oshkosh enrollment projections for 2011-12 show a 3 percent increase in the number of new students and transfer students. UW Oshkosh also continues to see increases in the percentage of new students of color attending the institution.

The University remains on a course to eclipse an enrollment mark of more than 16,000 students by 2020. It is one commitment made by the University in the UW System’s Growth Agenda goals, a package of strategic initiatives designed to produce more and better prepared graduates, enhance student civic engagement and close student achievement gaps.

“Every expanding or new academic building, classroom, laboratory and student residence hall — and all the innovative programs within at our thriving campus — are designed with the goal of supporting and advancing the success of our students,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Petra Roter said. “Our strong and stable enrollment growth in the last decade is a validation that our investment in and concentration on the things that help students flourish at UW Oshkosh is working.”

The 2011-12 academic year begins with an array of new or expanded UW Oshkosh initiatives designed to help further push the institution toward its Growth Agenda objectives. A few of these include:

  • Increased funding for the Student Titan Employment Program, a high-impact, learning-based internship program that exposes students to career-skill building job experiences in departments and colleges throughout the campus community. It is only one student employment program helping propel students in their pursuit of degrees and ease the burden of college tuition in challenging economic times. Last year, student employment programs on campus provided approximately 1,750 students with $5.3 million in annual wages. That equated to $3,028 per student a year, or one semester’s tuition at UW Oshkosh.
  • The launch of UW Oshkosh’s dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester, a renewable energy production facility and hands-on learning laboratory facilitating student-faculty biosolids research, further propelling the campus toward its 2025 carbon-neutrality goal. The University’s biodigester, first of its kind in the Americas, will give students access to a state-of-the-art facility reliant on food and agricultural plant waste to produce methane gas and electricity. UW Oshkosh also recently announced its partnership in development of a large, wet anaerobic biodigester/biogas production facility at Rosendale Dairy, the state’s largest dairy farm in Pickett. The plant would use the livestock manure to make energy. It would also operate as a dynamic, collaborative UW Oshkosh student-and-faculty biosolids research and teaching laboratory with an attached public education center. The hands-on environmental and microbiological science and research and public education opportunities involved in these endeavors will expose students to high-impact, highly sought after knowledge and career skills.
  • Creation of the new African-American Alumni-Student Mentoring Initiative. The new program, run through UW Oshkosh’s Alumni Mentor Network, matches African-American students and African-American alumni with the goal of furthering students’ opportunities for success at UW Oshkosh. It is one more example of the institution’s commitment to making UW Oshkosh an welcoming, inclusive campus where students of color thrive.

UW Oshkosh will also open the new home of its College of Letters and Science and College of Business, Sage Hall. The 191,000-square-foot center is the first new academic building on the campus in 40 years. It will house state-of-the-art classrooms, lecture halls, labs, project rooms and study spaces, each tailored to enhance the learning connection between tech-savvy students and equally tech-savvy faculty and staff.

“In its support for students, UW Oshkosh is helping achieve its Growth Agenda goals and producing the talented, liberally educated and technically skilled citizens the state, nation and world demand,” Provost Lane Earns said. “We honor our institution’s 140-year history by continuing to prepare graduates to enter the world as engaged, ethical and critical thinkers, eager to confront and find solutions to the problems of the day.”

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