SIU Chancellor: Enrollment up in freshman class - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SIU Chancellor: Enrollment up in freshman class

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -

A buzz is in the air in Carbondale, as freshman at Southern Illinois University begin their college careers. Since Southern Illinois University Chancellor Rita Cheng took office once of her focuses has been to increase enrollment.

Cheng says so far, it appears the freshman class is up by nearly 140 students. She says that's an increase the university has not seen in some time. It's a boost not only to the campus but the entire region.

SIU Freshman Nickirah Willis-Lee is from Chicago and getting ready to move into her new home for the school year. "I am very excited to meet new people," Willis Lee said.   

Before Willis-Lee meets those new friends, her first college task is to get all her things into her dorm room. Willis-Lee has her mom Carol Lee along to help.

"It's exciting," Lee said.  "That's my baby, my last."

Willis-Lee says this day is a dream come true, the start of her college career. But adds she chose SIU because it's still close enough to her family in Chicago.

"I'm the youngest of the family it will be hard trying to move away from my family, while I am so close to them."

Down the street from the dorms, staff at Don Taco prepares for more customers to fill seats. The manager says he ordered extra food in preparation for Salukis to fill Carbondale once again.

"A lot of more business coming in, especially this weekend, because the parents drop the kids," Victor Gobinez, Don Taco Manager said.

But Cheng still wants to bring more students to campus. To help do that, Cheng hired an outside firm to improve the university's image. She says new ideas are needed when it comes to getting even more students to look at SIU.  

"There are less people that are prepared for college, so we really need to make sure that we are as sharp as we can be in all of our messaging to prescriptive students and parents, because once they get to SIU they know we are an incredible place," Cheng said.  

It's a place that for the next few days will be filled with parents helping their kids start college and students excited about the year to come.

A university spokesman says so far it looks like the overall student population will be up this fall. But he adds they will not have a final number until the 10th day of class. Classes are set to start next week.

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