William Woods University

Enrollment gains seen at William Woods University for 2020 fall semester despite disruption of COVID-19

Increases seen in new undergraduate and online students, retention rate remains steady

In a fall semester unlike any other in its 150-year history, William Woods University (WWU) still managed to achieve enrollment gains in two key metrics while holding steady in another as the University announced enrollment statistics for the 2020 Fall semester today.

Despite unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, WWU welcomed 237 new students to campus this fall, including new students and transfers, an increase of one student over the Fall 2019 semester total. At the same time, the University’s retention rate of traditional undergraduate students held steady, at 72 percent, compared to Fall 2019. And William Woods’ traditional strength in online degree programs continued in a big way for the Fall 2020 semester, with 550 new online degree-seeking students, drawing from 40 states and four countries, an increase of 14 percent over the previous year.

William Woods University

“The challenges we have addressed over the past six months due to COVID-19, similar to all higher education institutions, have been extraordinary,” said Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, President of William Woods University. “The fact that we have been able to hold steady in terms of new student enrollment and retention, while significantly increasing our online presence in the face of these challenges, is tantamount to the strength and vitality of our University in its 150th year of operation.”

In addition to its enrollment gains, the University also continues to succeed in holding on campus, in-person instruction this fall despite the pandemic, a commitment it made in May. As of today, in the middle of the seventh week of the fall semester, the University currently has zero active cases of COVID-19 among its student population.

“We have always been proud to maintain that William Woods is a school where we will provide students with a quality college education,” said Dr. Barnett. “It is also a place where we will do everything in our power to keep our students safe. The commitment to health and safety measures by our entire campus community this fall has been exemplary.” 

Under President Barnett’s leadership, William Woods has instituted a series of bold initiatives that have moved the university forward at a time when many of its higher education peers face enrollment and financial challenges. These initiatives included adding graduate and online courses in the early 1990’s, long before most institutions similar to WWU were doing so; moving the university to co-ed status; strengthening the institution’s nationally acclaimed Equestrian Science program and establishing unique, niche degree programs such as American Sign Language, Show-Me GOLD, Cybersecurity and a Master of Health Administration. As a result, total enrollment at William Woods has now increased by more than 300% since President Barnett became president of the University 30 years ago, in April of 1990.