Enrollment stable, retention up at St. Ambrose University

From left, St. Ambrose freshmen Jonathon Stuckert, Frank Price and Alexis Schau laugh during a class activity Sept. 27. Enrollment and student retention are up at the Davenport university.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — Stabilizing enrollment and retaining students are two major goals of St. Ambrose University, said Jamie Loftus. He is vice president of enrollment management and student services at the Davenport-based Catholic university.

A total of 2,813 undergraduate students are enrolled this fall, along with 850 graduate students. These numbers compare with 2,885 undergraduate and 844 graduate students in the fall of 2009. The university’s numbers show increases in both diversity and retention.

“Overall we are very pleased,” Loftus said. “After a decade or more of growth, we are working on retention and neighborhood relations.

“Our fall report is showing the results of deliberate work over the past several years to stabilize our enrollment numbers and student-body size.”


The student retention rate rose 8 percent this year; all together, 82 percent of first- to second-year students have returned to the university.

“It is great to see the retention rate increase 8 percent from first- to second-year students. We are right where we want to be,” Loftus said.

Self-identified minority students in the first-year class increased from 9.4 percent to 12.5 percent. Overall, undergraduate population diversity rose from 8.5 to 10.5 percent. First-year retention increased from 73.5 percent to 81.3 percent. St. Ambrose has worked hard to make the university affordable for as many students as possible and to minimize their debt, he added. “We offer a combination of institutional, state and federal funds to make it valuable.”

Although no new programs were added this year, the occupational therapy, physical therapy and nursing programs continue to grow. And with the new health sciences building dedicated last month, Loftus said those programs should continue to grow and provide an excellent environment for student learning.

St. Ambrose also continues to be recognized for the quality of its education. U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Ambrose University 43rd, and in the top tier, among “Best Universities — Master’s By Region, Midwest,” using 15 indicators of academic excellence. The region includes 12 states.

The Princeton Review rated St. Ambrose as one of the best universities in the Midwest. That review is done by students, Loftus noted.

Princeton Review selected St. Ambrose as one of 152 institutions of higher education it recommends for its “Best in the Midwest” designation. Colleges named “regional bests” represent only about 25 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges. This is the sixth year in a row St. Ambrose has been selected.

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