COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – While the University of Missouri is dealing with a sharp drop in enrollment this fall, many other four-year universities in the state reported an increase in the number of students as classes resumed.
After protests disrupted the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus last fall, the incoming freshman class for this academic year shrank by almost one-quarter and first-day student numbers were down more than 6 percent.
Missouri State University, Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Southeast Missouri in Rolla, Harris-Stowe State University and Missouri Southern State University all reported this week that they expected an increase in enrollment this year, The Columbia Daily Tribune reports.
Missouri State University in Springfield, for example, said this week the number of transferring students increased by 108 and first-day enrollment was up almost 4 percent to more than 21,000. The number of incoming freshmen declined slightly, but retention rates have climbed, President Clif Smart said in a news release.
“As those students return to campus, it has bolstered our total enrollment,” he said. “We’re excited that first time college student enrollment is mostly steady and we are continuing to increase the number of transfer students.”
The University of Missouri reported 32,777 students were enrolled as classes began last Monday, down 2,373 from August 2015, and including 1,412 fewer first-time college students.
The enrollment drop was attributed in part to campus protests over race relations last fall, which eventually led to the resignations of System President Tim Wolfe and campus Chancellor Bowen Loftin. The university also cited declining high school graduation totals, increased admissions at the University of Illinois and more aggressive recruiting by other states.
Official enrollment totals are established for all schools in late September and early October. Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla reported incomplete figures as classes began Monday, although both campuses anticipate growth. The first-day freshman class at Missouri-Kansas City was 1,151, 126 more than the official freshman enrollment for fall 2015. On the Rolla campus, the first-day enrollment total of 8,640 was the largest in school history.
Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis reported 600 incoming freshmen, 32.7 percent more than last year, while Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau reported a 10.6 percent increase in its freshman class, to 1,875 students.
Missouri Southern State University in Joplin could not provide first-day comparisons, spokesman Scott Meeker said, but first-day enrollment Monday was up almost 4 percent over official enrollment for fall 2015.
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