Appalachian State University is seeing its largest enrollment in the school's history. This includes a historic increase of underrepresented students.

The university welcomed more than 20,600 students this fall. It's a record-breaking number despite the pandemic. And this year the student population is more diverse than it's ever been.

Underrepresented students now make up 18% of the university's total population, a more than 6% jump from last year. According to school officials, the term underrepresented is defined as someone who identifies as Hispanic, Black or another non-white race.

Cindy Barr is the Associate Vice Chancellor for enrollment management at App State. She says the university is committed to increasing diversity and inclusion on campus.

“We've also seen increases in our first-generation students and our rural student populations, and we've really as an institution been very intentional about our outreach and communication to those prospective groups,” says Barr.

University officials say all of this is part of slow and steady growth that's been taking place since 2014. The school recently opened the third of four new residence halls.

But not all of the growth has been on the Boone campus. Online enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, is also up with more than 1,600 students.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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