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Enrollment is on the upswing at the majority of area colleges and universities this fall, and at least three are celebrating the highest numbers in their histories.

D'Youville College, with 2,086 students, and Medaille College, with 1,374, are marking all-time highs. ITT Technical Institute, which opened in this area with eight students three years ago, now has 410.

Twelve others among Western New York's 23 colleges and universities also are experiencing an upsurge in enrollment.

Even the eight institutions with fewer students this year than last seem satisfied, citing such reasons as programs with waiting lists, more-stringent criteria for acceptance and increases in numbers of first-time, full-time students.

Overall, about 94,262 students are studying at local colleges and universities this fall. Last year's number was less than 93,000.

All of the fall 1999 numbers are preliminary, as most institutions are still accepting students, so the final count could be higher.

Why the increase?

Ninety-year-old D'Youville College is crediting its record numbers to "the demand for teachers in school systems throughout Western New York, the U.S. and Canada," said Ronald H. Dannecker, director of admissions at D'Youville.

"We have a tremendous increase in enrollment in our education programs," he noted.

Medaille College, at 63, is seeing "a sharp upturn in Canadian students enrolling in our elementary education certification program," said President Kevin I. Sullivan.

Sullivan credited Medaille's "new graduate programs in business and education" and "continued development of the college's intercollegiate athletic program" for the enrollment growth.

The overall increase in Medaille's enrollment is 15.2 percent and is represented at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Sullivan said.

ITT Technical Institute, which offers two-year degrees in electronic technology or computer-aided drafting technology, is thriving because of the hands-on training its students receive on state-of-the-art equipment, said Suzanne Noel, director of recruitment.

In addition, the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College are enjoying enrollment increases.

UB is attributing its surge to a number of factors, including new recruitment strategies -- among them the opening of a satellite admissions office on Park Avenue in New York City.

Other strategies include maintaining individual contact, principally by computer and telephone, with prospective students from point of contact to enrollment.

"Recruitment training sessions and marketing workshops have helped everyone better understand our strengths, appreciate the needs of prospective students and understand how important it is to serve those needs," said Mary
Weatherston, assistant director for admissions marketing at UB.

The university, where recruitment strategies in the last year included hiring an enrollment management consulting firm, is experiencing a 7 increase in freshman enrollment to more than 3,200, exceeding the target for 1999-2000 by more than 100.

Buffalo State, where enrollment is up for the second year in a row, is expecting even stronger growth in the future, said Dennis McCarthy, interim associate vice president for enrollment management.

"Renovation work has begun in Moot Hall to consolidate and streamline our admissions, financial aid, registrar's and student account offices," he said. "These improvements will further enhance our ability to provide students with improved services in these enrollment areas."

Jamestown Community College has about 150 more students this year, said Marilyn Zagora, dean of student development and marketing. "We believe the key factor is that families are increasingly aware that community colleges represent an excellent entry point for higher education," she said, "whether the student's goal is immediate preparation for the work force, or transfer to a four-year college or university."

Other institutions experiencing growth this year include Alfred University, Canisius College, Fredonia State and Geneseo State colleges, Genesee Community College, Hilbert and Houghton colleges, Niagara University and Villa Maria College.

Alfred University, once again, has the area's highest tuition, but students are getting a break: Under the university's tuition plan, the rates are according to class.

This means that freshman tuition is currently $18,498; sophomore, $19,414; junior, $20,376; and senior, $21,384. In-state students in the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University pay $8,872.

Trocaire College again has the lowest private school tuition, $7,320.

Tuition remains at $3,400 at the State University of New York's four-year schools.

It is $3,200 for students at schools of technology such as Alfred State, although those in baccalaureate programs at Alfred State must pay the full $3,400.

All of Western New York's community colleges are at the SUNY tuition cap of $2,500, except for Erie Community College, where trustees have cut tuition by $25, to $2,475.

ECC is among local colleges with fewer students this year, but its president, William J. Mariani, said the fall 1999 enrollment is actually promising. It includes "an increase in first-time, full-time students, which means our recruitment efforts are working," Mariani said.

Trocaire College President Paul B. Hurley Jr. noted that although his institution's enrollment is down by about 36 students, "we are encouraged that we have been able to turn the corner on enrollment."

"We are up 52 freshman students over last year, and we have two new programs -- massage therapy and motor transportation -- approved by the state just in August, to start later this semester or in January," Hurley said.

Daemen College President Martin J. Anisman pointed out that his institution's drop in enrollment reflects changes in its physical therapy program, which is now a five-year master's program, replacing the four-year bachelor's offering that Daemen has had for more than 20 years.

"The smaller number of students admitted to our physical therapy program also reflects our obligation to meet new requirements of (the American Physical Therapy Association), the accrediting association for physical therapy education," Anisman said.

Empire State College is experiencing an enrollment dip, according to the Niagara Frontier Center dean, Anne R. Bertholf, "because the target for this, and the college's other centers, has been reduced a little because so many students are enrolling (college-wide) through Empire State's distance learning programs."

The reasons that Bryant & Stratton Business Institute is experiencing an enrollment decrease include "the relative good state of the economy, which allows for higher employment levels and less job dislocation" and because the college has "raised its entrance standards," said John J. Staschak, executive vice president.

Alfred State, which is also raising its academic profile, is down in enrollment as well.

But the institution has seven programs with waiting lists and two programs -- building construction and the machine tool certificate program in the evening -- that have been expanded, to meet demand, said Deborah J. Goodrich, admissions and enrollment management director.

Other local institutions with enrollment decreases include Niagara County Community College and St. Bonaventure University.

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