When Chicago-area native Justin Watt stepped on campus and discovered the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s innovative and forward-looking Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, he knew it would be his academic home.
“When I learned about Nebraska’s Emerging Media Arts concept, I knew this is where I needed to be,” Watt said. “I had looked at programs at several other universities, but there was nothing quite like EMA.
“Honestly, I never thought I’d be at a Big Ten university or have the opportunity to do something big, like work on a Star Wars or Marvel production. But here I am at Nebraska and in a program that offers that and so much more.”
Watt is part of 1,170 first-year students who have come to UNL from states other than Nebraska to pursue their undergraduate degrees, an increase of 3.6% from last year. He is also part of growth in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, which saw an increase of 6.2% in students from fall 2021.
Sutherland’s Maverick Naughtin, a Kiewit Scholar in the College of Engineering, has aspirations to be a team player — something he learned earning an Eagle Scout award and a trait that melds well with his goal of becoming a civil engineer.
“When something is needed, say some trusses or a dam, anything really, I’ll have the opportunity to work with a team of engineers and other experts to design, build and install the solution,” Naughtin said. “It’s incredible to think about because, in the end, it will be work that makes the world a little better place.”
As Naughtin begins his career journey this fall, he is part of a record 3,235 future builders enrolled in the College of Engineering. That tally — an increase of 7% from 2021 — is a historic high for the college and part of a 10-year growth trend.
As of Aug. 29, the overall student enrollment for UNL was 23,805, which represents a decline of 2.6% from 2021. First-time freshmen were down 2% and overall Nebraska residents at UNL down 1.8%.
“These numbers are not unexpected, but they are not the numbers we would want to see. We’re going to continue to dig deep to bring in new students and work to grow our enrollment,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “At the same time, I am incredibly proud that we’ve had record graduation levels in four of the last five years. Our most important measure of success is in those who leave here with a Husker degree. I am also pleased to see the growth from across the U.S. in this year’s undergraduates and that we have the most diverse student body in our history.”
In August of 2018, for the first time in its history, UNL awarded more than 4,000 bachelor’s degrees during the previous year. That threshold has continued to be topped each year since. The 20,906 bachelor’s degrees awarded in the last five years, an average of 4,181 per year, is record setting for the university.
Additional notes on UNL’s enrollment, gathered via an annual census held Aug. 29, include:
For the 10th straight year, the university has its most diverse student body ever
- 19.4% of Huskers are from diverse populations (up from 18.4% in 2021).
Double-digit increases in several colleges for students from other U.S. states coming to Nebraska to earn a degree. This includes growths of:
29.8% in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications;
26.4% in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources;
20.6% in the College of Business; and
12.6% in the College of Engineering.
Growth in first-time freshmen in several colleges:
16.3% in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications;
13.4% in the College of Business;
8.4% in the College of Engineering; and
8% in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.