Drew Houliston, right, and dozens of other faculty, staff and students help move new student into the dorms during Move-In Day at Wittenberg University Thursday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Near record freshman class enrolls at Witt, major Springfield employer

Wittenberg University received a near record enrollment for the upcoming school year as students moved in on Thursday.

Close to 1,800 students will attend the liberal arts college, new President Mike Frandsen said. That includes 588 students in the 2021 graduating class. That includes freshmen and transfer students.

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Wittenberg is a major local employer with a total of more than 250 employees and has an estimated $70 million economic impact on the Springfield community.

This class be the second-largest in recent history, Frandsen said, just shy of the 618 students who enrolled for the class of 2020. The incoming class includes students from 29 states and eight countries.

“Our story, our passion for helping young people grow and learn is recognized with new students coming to join us,” Frandsen said.

Frandsen was named the school’s 15th president in February. He served almost three years as the vice president for finance and administration at Oberlin College and before that was interim president at Albion College in Michigan.

One of the new president’s goals included increasing the school’s enrollment to 2,000 students.

Wittenberg has struggled in recent years as it made millions in cuts and is now on its third full-time president in less than a decade.

In 2010, Forbes named the university to a list of financially strained schools. The last president, Laurie Joyner, resigned in 2015 just weeks after announcing $6.5 million in cuts.

Eiress Hammond is an incoming freshman from Connecticut. She choose the school in part because of it’s location.

“I wanted to pick a school that was far away enough to get the college experience but close enough, where if I have something I need or anything like that, I could go home because I have family that lives in Pennsylvania,” Hammond said.

READ MOREWittenberg breaks ground on $40M complex to lure students

The new student became interested in politics a few years and has decided to major in political science. Her goal is to become a lawyer.

She’s excited for classes to begin on Monday, Aug. 21, and has only one worry.

“Generally, just being away from home and having to adapt to a new environment,” Hammond said.

Her new school has some features that can help her acclimate.

The Hagen Center helps students learn about the city by working in the community, Frandsen said.

“Students will spend about 80,000 hours in the community of Springfield working with elementary school students, working in the parks,” Frandsen said.

Another feature the school has a new $40 million dollar indoor athletic facility under construction. Officials hope it will help with future student recruitment as well as facilitate more connections with the Springfield community.

The new president and other school officials have said they hope the school’s features will attract more students in the future.

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