Mount Marty University sees five percent increase in enrollment

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:10 PM CDT
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YANKTON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Campus is buzzing at Mount Marty University with the start of classes and a new semester. But this year, like the past six, there will once again be more students in those classrooms.

Mount Marty officials said the university saw a five percent increase in total enrollment into this year over last year at the same time. The total number of students in undergraduate and graduate programs now sits at 926. It’s the seventh year in a row the university has added to its enrollment.

Josh Pickthorn is in his Junior year at Mount Marty. A member of the university’s football team, the Exercise Science major said that while he’s not sure where he’ll end up after graduation, Yankton is quickly becoming a home.

“I stayed here over the summer, and I was kind of missing the school year a little bit, which I’d never thought I’d see myself doing that. You know, you just kind of miss everyone being around,” Pickthorn said.

He said it’s been noticeable over the short time he’s been at the university of its growing population.

“My class that I came in with, we kind of noticed. ‘Dang, there’s a lot of people, seems a little bit more than our class when we came in.’ Then this year is even more, so it’s awesome to see,” Pickthorn said.

That momentum is something Mount Marty University President Marc Long would like to see continue in the future. While many universities and colleges across the country are dealing with stagnant and dropping enrollment, Mount Marty and other public and private institutions in South Dakota have been fighting that trend. That’s partially due to the increasing number of high school graduates in the region, compared to a dropping number elsewhere in the United States.

“We get two-thirds of our students from South Dakota and Nebraska. Both of those states are actually either going to stay stable or grow enrollment over the next five to eight years,” Long said.

They’ve also been helping themselves by trying to diversify the course offerings they have for students, adding programs and amenities to campus. That way, Long said, it shows commitment to the student body and Yankton itself of trying to make the university as attractive as possible.

“We’ve added graduate programs. We’ve maximized the sports teams that we have, and doing more with fine arts. So I think recognizing the opportunities you have in the marketplace, and communicating that to prospective students and their families, is really important,” Long said.

“We want to be known as the Catholic university in South Dakota, and we want to be known as a place that people come for rural health and wellbeing,” Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management & Marketing Greg Franz said.