Mary Baldwin University has record enrollment this fall in graduate and undergraduate programs, and an unprecedented number of applications yielded one of the strongest freshman classes. Beginning its 162nd year and recently ranked, again, by U.S. News & World Report in the top tier of master’s level universities in the South, Mary Baldwin has its highest overall enrollment ever — about 2,240 — at its historic campus in Staunton and five regional centers across Virginia.
Enrollment has more than doubled in the master’s program in Shakespeare studies, begun just two years ago and offered in partnership with Shenandoah Shakespeare. The 40 students include 23 newcomers and the first four to pursue a master of fine arts. In May, those four were the first to earn a master of letters in the program. Frank R. Southerington, director of the program and professor of English, said admissions have quickly become very selective, with applicants from around the country. The unique program combines scholarship and stagecraft.
The Master of Arts in Teaching Program, which last year marked its first decade, has a record 124 students. Carole C. Grove, its director, credits, among other things, strong recommendations from students, graduates, and school systems hiring those graduates. “The best marketing is word of mouth,” she said, noting that principals in area schools call the program for names of graduating students. The MAT, attracting both recent college graduates seeking initial licensure and seasoned instructors, is offered in Staunton, Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Richmond.
Mary Baldwin expects about 900 students in on-campus undergraduate programs when classes start Monday. They include record numbers of students — 143 total and 53 freshmen — in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, the only all-woman cadet corps.
The college will have 322 new students — 279 freshmen and 43 transfers — in on-campus undergraduate programs. Mary Baldwin received a record of nearly 1,400 applications for the freshman class. Students are drawn from more than half the states, spread all over the country. The freshmen are a diverse group in many other ways. About 40 percent are women of color: African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and Native American.
Average SAT scores of first-year students climbed for the third straight year, reaching 1080 this fall as the college moves rapidly toward an immediate goal of 1100. A record number of freshmen qualified as Bailey Scholars and were awarded generous scholarships, based on SAT scores, grades, essays, and interviews.
The Program for the Exceptionally Gifted has 22 new students for a total of 75. Each bypasses all or most of high school to become full-time residential students at Mary Baldwin. Many will in live the new PEG Center in the heart of the historic Staunton campus.
The Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, one of the oldest in Virginia and offered in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond, Weyers Cave, and Sterling in northern Virginia’s Loudoun County, will have more than 1,180 students. They are enrolled as undergraduate students, in post-graduate teacher licensure, or in certificate programs.
Enrollment figures do not become official until mid September. Unlike the on-campus undergraduate programs, graduate programs and the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs enroll men as well as women.