“This is a great time to be a student at the University of South Dakota,” said James W. Abbott, president of the University of South Dakota. “Obviously, we are very pleased with our growth of traditional undergraduate students, but we are even more excited that we have been able to maintain a quality incoming freshman class.”

According to Jeff Baylor, vice president of marketing, enrollment and student services, the freshman class at USD established lofty academic standards by achieving an average ACT assessment score of 23.31, up from 22.98 for the same group a year ago. The average freshman grade point average also increased to 3.37 this fall compared to 3.30 in 2010. Cultural diversity of first-time, full-time students also rose from 9 percent a year ago to 12 percent this fall.

Overall, USD’s total full-time equivalent student enrollment has increased from 7,069 students from the fall of 2010 to 7,233 in 2011. USD is one of only three regental schools to grow its full-time equivalent enrollment from last year to this year. The increase, Baylor says, is largely attributed to a dedicated faculty and staff, and generous scholarship support from the USD Foundation.

Total headcount at South Dakota’s six public universities in 2011 is 36,103 students – down less than 1 percent from last year, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced today. It’s the first decrease in total headcount in 13 years for South Dakota’s public university system.

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