BISMARCK, ND — Some colleges across the country have witnessed enrollment decreasing because parents have advised their children to stick close to home for safety reasons, or even put college on hold entirely. There is widespread institutional uncertainty on the landscape of higher education. Institutions have gone as far as cutting programs to stay fiscally secure during this COVID-19 pandemic. But during the 2020 academic year the University of Mary is experiencing nearly identical numbers as last year.

The University of Mary’s total enrollment for this fall is at 3,802. Students living on campus is up by 31, to 1,165 this year compared to last year’s total of 1,134. The steady numbers are attributed to getting the word out early in the spring about University of Mary’s decision to reconvene in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester, while providing the option of taking online courses.

Brenda Nagel
VP, Public Affairs, University of Mary

“We were one of the first universities in the country to announce our reopening, if you will, and have a Return to Campus COVID plan in place early on in the process, thanks to the hard work, dedication and forward-thinking of our Emergency Response Team (ERT),” said Brenda Nagel, vice president for Public Affairs, who oversees enrollment. “Once that was established, our staff got to work quickly to spread the word far and wide. Then they did a remarkable job providing safe, outstanding customer service to potential students and family members as they visited and toured campus in-person and virtually with representatives and faculty — where other universities may have struggled to provide such service.”

Remarkably, the University of Mary saw a slight uptick in the number of students coming from outside of North Dakota: around 60 percent make up the out of state population, while about 40 percent hail from North Dakota. North Dakota numbers, likewise, have held steady.

“Parents have put their trust in us during the pandemic, and for that we are humbly grateful for their loyalty to the University of Mary,” added Nagel. “We are happy to have been able to provide safety and stability during these challenging times for hundreds of families. The overwhelming feedback we have received from families who have inquired still reference our reputation as the most affordable, serious, Catholic university in America, which is very heartening to hear.”

Some of the other notable programs of interest are under the School of Health Sciences and the Gary Tharaldson School of Business (GTSB). The University of Mary has one of the nation’s top nursing programs and is the most popular with 73 new recruits. GTSB experienced a 34.6 percent increase and the Health Sciences grew by 8.6 percent, respectively from last year.