Alcorn, Co-Lin enrollment up significantly

Published 12:57 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — During the economic downturn, fewer jobs has meant more students for local colleges.

Mississippi’s public universities enrollment increased by more than 3,000 students or 4.1 percent from fall 2009.

Community colleges increased by nearly 6,000 students, or by 7.2 percent.

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Alcorn State University experienced the greatest increase of Mississippi public universities, with a 10.4 increase.

Preliminary figures report 3,682 students enrolled this fall at Alcorn compared to 3,334 in 2009, according to a Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institution of Higher Learning press release.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College enrollment numbers increased by 14.6 percent, from 3,631 students enrolled last fall to 4,047 this fall, according to vice president of the Co-Lin Natchez campus, Teresa Busby.

On the Natchez campus, enrollment is up 110 students with a total of 978 students, or a 12.7 percent increase.

Alcorn Associate Vice President of Marketing Clara Stamps said both the economic downturn and the university’s new marketing campaign contributed to the enrollment increase.

She said a new “seven letter flow process” targets prospective students and mails those students letters from various administrative levels.

A new biotechnology building, ecology building and new programs have room to accommodate the student influx and continued growth, Stamps said.

“We welcome the new growth in enrollment,” Stamps said.

Stamps said a recently established enrollment management committee focuses on reaching students with Alcorn’s rebranding campaign, with a new slogan, “Knowledge and character: build both at Alcorn State University.”

New student housing recently opened, which should provide the larger student body with more places to live.

At Co-Lin, Busby said the increase of 110 students can be felt in daily operational costs, such as maintenance supplies.

Classes are larger, which Busby said community colleges try to avoid — but Co-Lin welcomes the increase.

“The more students you have, the more impact you’re making,” Busby said.

While student-teacher ratios are widening and the school has no immediate plans to hire more faulty members, Busby said the community college class size is still generally smaller than that of a large university.

“But we see the increase as a positive thing,” Busby said.

Busby said more educated people in Natchez means a better-trained workforce and more opportunities to contribute to the community.

Busby said 100 percent of the clubs on Co-Lin’s Natchez campus sponsored charitable events last years.

The increase at Co-Lin this year follows a trend of increased enrollment at community colleges across the state.

The overall 7.2 increase in Mississippi community colleges is on top of a 14.3 percent increase from fall 2008 to fall 2009.

According to a State Board for Community and Junior Colleges July 2010 report, 74 percent of all freshmen in public institutions were enrolled in community colleges.

The executive director of the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges, Eric Clark, said the increase in can be attributed to offering an option of a good education that is affordable and close to home.

“It is my hope that our state’s leaders will recognize this great contribution and provide the support necessary for our community colleges when preparing our state budget next year,” Clark said.