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Record numbers by Elizabeth Del Toro
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How many students?

Record numbers

Down the Corridor


Students, faculty and staff noticed more people on campus than ever before this fall. UNT’s record-high enrollment of 30,183 students reflects an 8.35 percent increase from last year, or an additional 2,325 students — substantial growth considering that the increase over the previous 12 years was about 700 students.

Today’s 30,000-plus figure is quite a number compared to the few hundred students enrolled in the 1890s or the few thousand who attended in the 1930s and ’40s (the 5,000 mark was first topped in 1948). In the university’s more recent history, enrollment has increased particularly in the 1960s and 1980s.

In 1961 when North Texas State College became a university, about 8,800 students were enrolled. By the end of the decade that number had nearly doubled, to about 15,000. Virginia Wheeless, UNT associate vice president for planning and UNT System vice chancellor for planning, says Vietnam veterans returning home from the war may have been a factor in the significant growth.

“People were coming to school for different reasons,” she says. “By the end of the 1960s, they were returning to a normal life.”

The growth caused a few challenges on campus, especially as thousands trekked to registration each semester. “Serpentine lines of sun-beaten students weaved into the Main Library,” wrote an author for the 1966 Yucca. “Registrants sampled a new procedure … but the change did little to lessen the traditionally mad press for classes.”

The enrollment growth during the tie-dyed 1970s was much smaller. In fact, enrollment increased from 15,000 to only about 17,000 students by the end of the decade. The 1980s, however, brought another large growth spurt.

photo of students
Enrollment this fall reached a record 30,183 students, an 8.35 percent increase from last year.

Enrollment soared from about 17,000 to more than 26,000 students. Wheeless says this growth could be related to a population increase in the North Texas area during the ’80s and to the Texas economy — as the economy declined, college enrollment increased.

Now, with more than 30,000 students, UNT seems poised to reach its projected enrollment of 42,000 in 2015, Wheeless says, assuming the state provides the necessary new resources. So, while registration lines may be a thing of the past (current students register via the Internet or phone), other signs of growth on campus are expected far into the future.

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