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story.lead_photo.caption Lydia Mason, a William Woods University freshman and Fulton resident, heads for her next class Tuesday afternoon. For fall semester 2019, WWU welcomed hundreds of new students. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

William Woods University welcomed 958 new evening and online students, up 5 percent from a year ago for fall semester.

Along with 236 new incoming undergraduate and transfer students, William Woods' total enrollment continued to move in a positive direction.

The university once again saw a significant increase in the number of evening and online students enrolled during the first week of the semester, bringing the university's total enrollment (including undergraduate, evening and online students) to 2,168 students.

Overall, total enrollment has increased by more than 300 percent since Jahnae Barnett became president in April 1990.

"Our ongoing commitment to innovation, change and vision is what has allowed William Woods to become the modern, professions-oriented university it is today," Barnett said. "As we get ready to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the university in 2020, our continued enrollment gains provide us with another example or our strength and vitality as an institution."

Under Barnett's leadership, William Woods has instituted a series of initiatives to move the college forward.

These initiatives included being early adopters of graduate and online courses in the early 1990s; becoming co-ed; strengthening the institution's nationally acclaimed equestrian science program; and establishing unique, niche degree programs such as American Sign Language, cybersecurity and a master of health administration.

For the past nine years, William Woods has enjoyed a top 100 ranking from the U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges' listing of Midwest regional universities, a category that covers 12 states and hundreds of colleges and universities, the college noted.

"We are especially proud of the quality of students we continue to enroll," Barnett said. "Our continued progress — from both a financial and an enrollment perspective — is a strong indicator of our health as a university."

This fall's incoming class at William Woods comes from 25 U.S. states and 11 foreign countries, and includes 17 students from Missouri Military Academy taking courses at WWU for the first time.

Interest in WWU has never been higher, according to the college. Visits to campus by prospective students reached 862 during the 2018-19 school year, up four percent from 2017-18 when there were 828.

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