LRU News

LR achieves pair of milestones – University achieves record enrollment and endowment

Mon Oct 7 2013

October 3, 2013

Lenoir-Rhyne University has more students enrolled today than at any time in the school’s 123-year history. For the first time LR’s enrollment has surpassed 2,000, reaching 2,005 this fall.

“In 2008, during the beginning of the economic downturn, we seized an opportunity by expanding our graduate school programs,” said LR’s Vice President for Enrollment Management Rachel Nichols. “That’s been key to growing our student population during a period of national decline in enrollments.”

Another key to the growth has been LR’s expansion into new markets through the merger with Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC, and the opening of the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville.

“We definitely have made considerable progress even in times of uncertainty for higher education,” said LR President Dr. Wayne Powell. “Given our current pattern of growth I expect our enrollment to reach 2,500 students within the next five years. Perhaps the most remarkable measure of our growth, however, has been with our endowment.”

The university has joined the elite ranks of North Carolina’s 36 private colleges and universities by the measure of its record endowment, which is often seen as the primary indicator of long-term stability.

Ten years ago LR’s endowment was $39 million. Today it is $93.5 million placing LR fifth among the state’s private colleges and universities behind only Duke, Wake Forest, Davidson and Elon.  The top five institutions are often looked upon as the leaders in state higher education, and LR is poised to accept that role.

“One of the chief measures of a university’s health is its endowment,” said LR Vice President Drew Van Horn. “LR is able to invest our endowment and draw on its return to fund various projects and initiatives without ever spending down the original investment.  This financial strength allows us to invest in new programs and expand services to our students.”

As an example, proceeds from certain endowment funds can provide scholarships to students as well as be used to fund building improvements and faculty compensation. A strong endowment helps a university afford top-quality professors and it helps the school weather tough economic times. A university’s endowment is a key factor in determining its ranking in publications like “U.S. News & World Report’s” annual “Best Colleges” list.

“LR was fortunate to have a great run during a bad economy,” Powell said. “We intend to maintain our momentum and leverage our strengths to move to even greater heights.”

LR’s endowment has grown through donations, good market investments and acquisition of the assets of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary through its merger with LR.

“Our goal is to be prestigious but not elitist,” Powell said. “We specialize in helping our students transition from good to exceptional and we are going to always remain true to our mission.”

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