Aug. 14, 2012 — Public higher education apparently is heading for a boom school year in Morehead.
Record fall enrollments are likely at both Morehead State University and the Rowan Campus of Maysville Community and Technical College (RC-MCTC).
Classes started Monday at RC-MCTC and Campus Director Russ Ward said classrooms and parking spaces were in short supply.
“We are doing our best to accommodate everyone and most are very understanding of our situation,” Ward said.
In addition to classes at the main campus facility on Viking Drive off KY 32, the two-year school also offers classes at two locations in Mt. Sterling and in downtown Morehead at the former middle school library where a new cosmetology class started this week.
“At this point it looks likely that we will exceed last fall’s head count of 670 students at the Rowan Campus,” he added.
Ward said the institution is “very anxious” to occupy its new technology center next year in Mt. Sterling and to build the first phase of its new campus at the John Will Stacy MMRC Regional Business Park on KY 801.
The $35 million first phase of a new campus was the highest priority project of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) in the 2012 legislation session. However, no capital projects were funded in the 2012-14 state budget.
Meanwhile, MSU is preparing for what appears to be its largest freshman class in history to show up this Friday for “move-in” day for new students.
Returning students will be welcomed back on Thursday.
“Our goal for this fall was 1,600 new freshmen and the most recent calculations indicate we will hit that mark,” said Jeffrey Liles, MSU’s assistant vice president for enrollment services.
Last fall’s count of new freshmen was 1,372.
Morehead State had its largest total head count in history last fall when 10,971 students enrolled on campus, online, at its five regional campuses and at 38 area high schools participating in the “Early College” program.
Liles said Monday that it is far too early to tell if total fall enrollment will hit a new mark.
“We’re making some adjustments in the ‘Early College’ program and classes we previously offered at Jackson were shifted to the University Center of the Mountains at Hazard,” he said.
The “Early College” classes will be available this fall in 44 high schools, according to Liles.
MSU apparently ran out of campus housing earlier this summer and posted this notice on its website:
“Morehead State University is now accepting housing applications for a wait list only. The demand for on-campus housing has been extremely strong this fall. While we cannot guarantee an on-campus residence hall assignment, we will work with each student to find appropriate housing.”
“Students, under age 21 with less than 60 hours, who have not yet been assigned housing are asked to contact the Office of Student Housing if they plan to commute or prefer to be placed on a wait list for on-campus housing.”
Madonna Weathers, vice president for student life, said MSU implemented its “expanded capacity” plan to find housing for the influx of new students, primarily males.
“We’ve added a fifth bed in some of the four-person units in newly-renovated residence halls like Nunn, East Mignon and Mignon Tower and reclaimed some housing spaces in other halls that had been used for offices and study areas,” she said.
Weathers is pleased by the good attitudes shown by students and parents who literally are showing up each day in hopes of finding living space for the fall term.
“These families understand that we are dealing with the temporary loss of 200 beds and they are being patient,” she added.
She was referring to West Mignon Hall which is out of service this year to be renovated as part MSU’s long range plan to upgrade all of its student housing.
Weathers said she was optimistic that students on the wait list would have housing arrangements within a few days.
“We have a long tradition of taking care of our students and this fall will be no different,” she added.
MSU and the University of Pikeville were involved in a dispute last winter during the legislative session when UPike tried to become a public institution and claim eight of MSU’s 22 counties as a service region.
Some MSU alumni were concerned that the matter could impact future enrollment from the mountain counties.
When asked about enrollment from coal-producing counties for this fall, Liles reported that twice as many freshmen were expected over last year from Pike, Floyd and Martin counties.
“We’re finding that alumni, public school officials and East Kentucky alumni and parents now are even more aware of our historic commitment to that part of our service region,” he added.
Liles said strong marketing of MSU’s positive brand is a major factor in enrollment growth over the last few years.
He noted that a special registration session was held last Friday for last-minute applicants and more than twice as many showed up than were expected.
Keith Kappes can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.