University News

Western Illinois University: Sustaining the Leatherneck Tradition

September 8, 2017

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- Following a more than 700-day State of Illinois' budget impasse, which ended in early July, Western Illinois University is looking to the future and doing its part to restore the public's confidence that higher education in the state of Illinois is strong, viable and sustainable.

"It comes as no surprise that freshmen and overall enrollment declined this fall. However, considering what had occurred at the state level in terms of the state budget impasse, and with increased competition for a smaller pool of students, the decline could have certainly been much worse," noted WIU President Jack Thomas. "When the budget impasse extended beyond the end of the fiscal year and was not resolved by June 30, and given the length of the impasse, students and their parents were concerned about public higher education in Illinois, and many made their college decisions before the budget impasse resolved."

Western's graduate student enrollment has increased to 1,842 this fall. In addition to the increase in new graduate student enrollment, participation in the University's dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to take college courses, has more than doubled to 41 students this fall, and the WIU Centennial Honors College enrollment continues to rise. This fall, the number of Honors students has increased 5.5 percent to 899 students. According to Honors College Director Rick Hardy, the College is on track to exceed 1,000 members this academic year.

"We are working to restore the public's confidence in higher education, and we are positioning our University for a sustainable future. We continue to do everything possible to keep WIU affordable and accessible, and we are reinvesting in our academic programs and other areas," Thomas said. "Increasing enrollment at Western Illinois University across all levels is a priority. One of the five goals in our Strategic Plan Supplement is to stabilize the University's total enrollment at 10,000 students in the midst of these challenging times. As I've mentioned on previous occasions, this requires new and enhanced recruitment and retention strategies, which are underway. We must work together to ensure that Western Illinois University is considered the right choice."

While the institution's new freshman enrollment decreased, Admissions Director Seth Miner added that the integrity of WIU's academic profile has remained strong. The average GPA of incoming students is 3.22, up slightly from Fall 2016. The total number of new freshmen enrolling this fall is 1,206. Total enrollment for Fall 2017 is 9,441 [Macomb campus: 8,109; Quad Cities campus: 1,332]. Undergraduate enrollment is 7,599; new transfer student enrollment is 823; and international student enrollment is 459.

"Besides stabilizing our enrollment, our priorities include further increasing retention and providing academic programs and services that are responsive to our students' and society's needs," Thomas said. "We are a national leader in finding innovative ways to create affordable options for students, such as our four-year Cost Guarantee, Western Commitment Scholarships and Linkages program agreements with area community colleges. Western continues to excel and provide our students with a world-class education."

Fall 2016 enrollment information can be found at

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations