Drury University has announced plans to host its largest freshman class on Monday in the institution’s history.

The private liberal arts campus released a preliminary enrollment of 413 freshmen, higher than the previous record of 406 set in 2010.

The rise comes at a time when many higher education institutions, especially private ones, are struggling to recruit.

“It’s truly a testament to Drury’s unique ability to bounce back quickly. It takes a whole campus to recruit a Panther, and everyone has stepped up their game this year; we’re seeing the fruits of that,” said Kevin Kropf, vice president of enrollment management, marketing and communications, in a news release Friday.

“We are grateful to have a sense of normalcy restored and our students are thrilled to be on campus with their friends and immersed in the Drury experience.”

In 2021, the university took a “calculated risk” to offer fully in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when many students elsewhere were learning virtually. The decision, which included extensive testing and additional precautions, was a way to prevent the campus from remaining empty.

The university credited the move with helping stabilize enrollment during a time when many institutions that were unable to stay in person saw a decline.

According to Friday’s press release, Drury said the growth in enrollment is due in part to new features on campus:

Six new non-NCAA sports have been added to the track and field program: men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rugby, men’s ice hockey and STUNT.

Sunderland Field, the main leisure ground at the Drury campus, was updated this summer from grass to turf. This upgrade will provide practice space for lacrosse and rugby as well as space for intramural games and student activities.

Construction site on the CH

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This year will also mark the inauguration of the CH “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center, the Breech School of Business Administration and the Judy Thompson Executive Conference Center.

The facility, which is still under construction, will house the Breech School of Business, Political Science, Mathematics and Computer Science and the Robert and Mary Cox Compass Center.

The public inauguration is scheduled for 3 p.m. on October 28.

Current enrollment figures are provisional. Official figures will be available on September 6, after the university census.