Colonel Family Grows with Increasing Enrollment

Published on August 17, 2023

By Sarah Bashford

Last week and throughout the weekend, EKU welcomed its largest freshman class in several years before the start of classes on Monday, Aug. 14. According to Dan Hendrickson, EKU’s associate vice president for student success, engagement and opportunity, EKU has experienced a nearly 30% increase since 2020 during a period of national enrollment decline. Along with increasing freshmen enrollment, EKU also had a 10% increase in returning students requesting housing. With the renovation of Mattox Hall, Housing & Residence Life was able to accommodate every student requesting a space.

Campus was bustling with excitement and activity at the arrival of EKU’s class of 2027. On Move-In Day last week, freshmen were greeted at Alumni Coliseum where they checked in and received their free books through EKU BookSmart. Residence Hall staff and volunteers across campus helped each student move into their room within a record 15 minutes. The short time frame ensured everyone got moved in with the high volume of new students.

“It was pretty much effortless; everybody was around to help,” said freshman Luke Thornsbury. “It was a welcoming feeling. It felt like everyone was just wanting to help you and wanting you to feel like you were where you wanted to be.”

EKU’s traditional Big E Welcome included five days of events designed to get students acquainted with campus and their classmates. Freshmen walked through the Turner Gates on Thursday evening for the Welcome Walk, symbolizing the start of their Eastern Experience. 

“I’m not normally a really social person, but I’ve made a few friends already,” said Haley Hundley, a freshman animal and veterinary science major. “I am definitely more comfortable going into classes after Big E Welcome. I was really surprised when I saw there was a five-day thing going on, but I’m really enjoying it.”

On Friday evening, rapper Lil Jon performed a concert in the Ravine for new and returning students as part of Big E Welcome festivities and the Exceptional Eastern Experience (E3). 

E3 brings new and returning students together and creates a social environment that encourages students to get involved on campus. Exclusive student events are hosted throughout the academic year. The next scheduled E3 concert features Tennessee Rapper GloRilla on Sept. 13.

“In the transition to campus, on both the academic side and the social side, it’s important that we get students connected,” said Dr. Dannie Moore, vice president for student affairs. “We’re creating an exceptional experience for students but also creating a place where everyone feels like they belong.”

EKU’s innovative investments into students continue to grow enrollment. EKU offers programs focused on keeping students first like EKU BookSmart, E3 and increased support services aimed at helping students achieve success.