CARBONDALE – A nine-year streak of declining enrollment has ended with the new school year at Southern Illinois University.
The school reported Tuesday that it will have 25 more students this year than it did last year. It's a small victory for a campus that has seen a 16.8 percent decrease in its student body over the last nine years.
Interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela tells the Southern Illinoisan (http://bit.ly/WbnpRb ) the modest increase is cause enough for celebration.
"One of my favorite historical figures is Winston Churchill," Sarvela said. "He always had a gesture when things went well. It was called the 'v' for victory, and I've declared a 'v' for victory that we've held our enrollment and been able to curb that 10 years of decline."
Sarvela credited SIU's strategic outreach, growing reputation and academic programs for its ability to bounce back from the decline.
Freshmen and international student enrollment also increased. The school welcomed 2,632 freshmen and at total of 1,841 international students this year.
SIU hasn't seen such a large number of international students since 1985. Most of the students came from Brazil, India, China, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.
"I attribute that to our international program staff," Sarvela said. "Carla Coppi, Tom Saville and others have done a superb job of getting out our message and it's working. The other thing is students go home, and they tell everybody else Southern Illinois is a great place to go."
Nearly 18,000 students are enrolled at SIU this year.