Hundreds of freshmen students, part of the record enrollment class, receive the traditional wheat stalk during the Welcome Week ceremony this week.

BISMARCK, ND—The University of Mary has more students today than at any time in its nearly 60-year history. The 2017 class was record setting, but this 2018 fall class is the biggest ever—and by a huge margin.

Five-hundred thirty-three new freshmen are beginning their first classes on the main campus of the University of Mary today, Wednesday, September 5. That’s 22 percent more than last year, and also raises the number of students living on campus by 17 percent. According to preliminary numbers, the overall enrollment at Mary is expected to be over 3,600 students, an increase of more than six percent in just one year. Official enrollment numbers will be reported in October. Those students are coming from across the nation and the world, with all 50 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 15 countries represented in the student body.

“Because our enrollment has continued to grow at a phenomenal pace these last few years—but especially this class—we often get asked lately ‘what’s your secret?’ Most immediately appealing to parents, is our affordability. For students, I often repeat the phrase they use when bragging to their friends—‘Have you seen this place?’” said Michael McMahon, vice president for Enrollment Management.  “Once students visit Mary, whether from down the hill or across the country, they are simply blown away by everything we offer. Our Year-Round Campus option is a game changer for students wanting their bachelor’s degree in 2.6 years and a master’s in 4. We have some of the best academic programs and faculty in the world. You can’t beat the Lewis and Clark-view from atop our bluff overlooking the Missouri River Valley. We are one of the very few universities with the convenience of 24/7 dining and renowned chefs in our Crow’s Nest Restaurant. We are faith-based, which speaks to our Christian, Catholic and Benedictine heritage. The world becomes an extension of the classroom with our comprehensive global studies program providing campuses in Rome and Peru and study abroad opportunities in England, Poland, Milan, and Jerusalem. And, they get to compete for conference and national championships in 17 different NCAA Division II athletics.”

Hundreds of freshmen students, part of a record enrollment class, pack the McDowell Activity Center for the Wheat Ceremony during Welcome Week festivities this week.

The University of Mary is the fastest-growing university in its Carnegie class nationwide, and for more than five years, more than 50 percent of each of our freshman classes have come from out of state. Once they arrive, McMahon says students feel a tremendous sense of community on campus. That pride then extends into the Capital City as students are cheered on and welcomed as they compete in sports, intern and network with employers for their careers, and later graduate, stay, work and raise their families here, helping to provide an annual economic impact of over $170 million to the community.

“They love our community of Bismarck-Mandan not only because of all the recreational opportunities—but our graduates prefer to stay in our community because it ranks No. 1 in America as the best city for jobs and it continually ranks as one of the safest and best places to live. But the one ingredient that is getting the most mention by our students, and maybe it’s a byproduct of what’s already been mentioned, is that there’s a deep and vibrant sense of community, fellowship and intellectual engagement among our student body that helps shape their lives forever. So, in their totality, all of those offerings make us very unique and appealing to parents and their children who come from around the world and make Mary their new home.”

Hundreds of freshmen students, part of the record enrollment class, receive the traditional wheat stalk during the Welcome Week ceremony this week.

McMahon doesn’t see the enrollment growth ending anytime soon. In fact, very early indicators point to more growth for next fall 2019, with even more students submitting early applications.

“There’s the very likely possibility we’ll need to implement another wait list for next fall, like we did this past year,” added McMahon. “Then all of this would likely facilitate an administrative conversation about the possible need to build more residence halls or apartments on campus. Interest in the University of Mary continues to explode. We said it in February, and I’ll say it again—the University of Mary is no longer the best kept secret in higher education.”

Helping to facilitate and accommodate that enormous growth is the University of Mary’s Vision 2030 capital campaign that has seen over 225,000 square feet of new facilities in the past 24 months. This three-phased $272 million campaign is nearing its Phase I goal of $96 million—with a new state-of-the-art School of Engineering facility as its capstone project coming soon.

Student Body President August Taylor addresses record freshman class, their parents and University of Mary faculty during the Wheat Ceremony.

On the distance education side, the university’s “Worldwide” programs—bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs designed for the working adult—continue to attract more students every year as well. The University of Mary has also become a leader in workforce development—partnering with employers across North Dakota to train employees.

The official exact total fall enrollment numbers won’t be known until October when they are reported to the federal government.

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