Earth Day in Lee County

FILE - Auburn University’s tree preservation committee approved the removal of both a white oak in Samford Park and a Heritage loblolly outside Smith Hall. 

Auburn University soon could be placing a cap on enrollment of undergraduate students at 25,000 if approved by the board of trustees.

The revision was discussed by Provost Bill Hardgrave during the trustees’ Thursday work session, but no action was taken at the board’s regular meeting Friday.

History of enrollment

Auburn University has changed drastically since 1856, when it was founded as East Alabama Male College. Student developments line the once-quaint downtown, fans flock to SEC football games and traffic clogs the streets. In 1856, enrollment at East Alabama Male College was 80 students.

The university reached double digits in the 1871-72 school year. Also in 1872, the school changed its name to Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.

By 1889, when the school became Alabama Polytechnic Institute, enrollment had reached 254. Today, Auburn University has 24,628 enrolled undergraduate students, 4,706 graduate and 1,106 professional students.

There are 15 schools and colleges at Auburn for the total of 30,440 students, with 140 majors.

In the 2017-18 school year, total enrollment was 29,776, which indicates Auburn is still growing.

Enrollment plan

The university, howerver, is now discussing placing a cap of 25,000 undergraduate students, which is close to the current undergraduate enrollment. Hardgrave addressed the board and asked it to look at reviewing, revising or replacing policy C-2, which is a policy looking at enrollment targets.

“So the plan is ... to stop our growth at 25,000 undergrads,” he said. “Again, we’re about there now.”

While the cap applies to the undergraduate level, Hardgrave said there will be some growth at the graduate level. He also discussed a cap on incoming freshmen at 5,000 students, as well as looking at 60 percent of students being in-state.

“Some elements to consider then, if we revise or replace it, is to codify the 25,000 undergraduates, codify the 5,000 first-time freshmen annually and at least 60 percent in-state undergraduates,” Hardgrave said.

Meanwhile, the physical campus also is growing, with the university recently having completed the Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center.

Under construction are a new dining hall, parking expansion and the student activity center renovation, among other projects.

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