Despite posting low enrollment numbers last year, UTC administrators said the state of the university on its 130th anniversary is strong.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Chancellor Steve Angle gave the annual address Thursday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Chamberlain Field, a former football field that has been repurposed as a communal green space in the center of campus.
"All of our oars are pulling together in the same direction: forward," Angle announced.
He pointed to total enrollment, which has grown to 11,533 students this year. Graduate enrollment increased by 4.5 percent, while undergrad- uate enrollment increased by 0.9 percent. At 2,080 students, freshman enrollment grew 11.5 percent.
But, this freshman class is the second-smallest UTC has seen since the number dipped to 1,948 in 2010. This year's increase is primarily a sign of recovery after last year's drop to 1,865 — a 16 percent decrease from 2014.
The Times Free Press previously reported the precipitous decline was tied to the 2014 rollout of Tennessee Promise, an education program that covers tuition and fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship or state student assistance funds.
For the first time in recent history, more than half of the graduating seniors in Hamilton County who planned on pursuing post-secondary education said they would attend two-year schools instead of four-year schools, according to the Public Education Foundation.