» By TIFFANY HALL- thall29@my.apsu.edu

More people are now applying and being accepted at APSU than ever before. In fact, this year’s applications for freshmen admission are up 24 percent from last year. Within the past four years, APSU has hired 60 new faculty members and the student to faculty ratio has dropped below 20 to 1.

“More faculty members means more people. And more people means more choices, and more choices means more programs. It is kind of like a domino effect, but it leads to something great,” said Tristan Denley, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

The most important plan to keep the domino effect going is something the university has already stressed: higher graduation rates. Having a higher graduation rate than other universities creates a great reputation for APSU because students have the desire to graduate in a certain time frame.

“Somewhere between freshman year and graduation, life tends to happen and things become more important. But we’re greatly improving our retention rate, which also leads to greater numbers of people applying,” Denley said.

There could be many explanations for the increased growth, but Denley attributes it to three factors.

First, according to Denley, Clarksville is growing rapidly. More companies and businesses are deciding to invest in Clarksville and with them come more families moving to the area.

Denley’s second factor is how the faculty at APSU ensures the graduation process. With more students graduating and higher graduation rates, the more likely students are to talk about the great programs that are offered. The class suggestion tool in OneStop is very popular among students and is also helpful in keeping students on track for graduation.

Denley’s last factor is the university is becoming increasingly attractive to outsiders.

“Stuff is happening here. Exciting things like the Hemlock Semiconductor building and the Starbucks going into the library,” Denley said. “With things like that happening, people are excited to be here.”

New fraternities and sororities are also coming to campus. Recently, Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority came to campus. This spring, Phi Gamma Delta fraternity will also join APSU’s Greek community.

With more and more students applying and enrolling, the university is taking measures to accommodate the growing student body. One of the first examples is the newest dorm, Castle Heights. The old dorms, Cross, Killibrew and Rawlings held somewhere around 1,500 beds, and when the new dorms are completed in Fall 2013, there should be around 2,000 beds available to students.

“Castle Heights residence hall, as well as the second phase of student housing now under construction, plays a tremendous role in attracting students. In addition, we reinforce the truth that APSU offers students more opportunities while they are students, so that they will have more opportunities when they graduate,” said Melony Shemberger, assistant director of Communications.

Denley also said a new math and computer science building is in the works.

The building is planned in response to the rapid growth of students majoring in Math and Computer Science. Expanding facilities means creating new space for education.

There are plenty of advantages to hiring new faculty beyond ratios and percentages.

According to Sherryl Byrd, vice president for Student Affairs, some of the full time employees that have been hired include a full-time coordinator for both the Military Student Center and the Hispanic Cultural Center.

Both of these staff members can devote time to helping students and provide programming. TAS