Enrollment increase leaves classrooms overfilled
One of the nice things about Missouri Western State University was the student to professor ratio in the classroom. This has changed significantly in the last couple of years.
The total number of students has jumped to 5026 underclassmen and 70 graduate students. This is a 5.86 percent increase from last year.
According to Institutional Research Analyst Judy Fields, this spring marks the largest enrollment for the spring semester in the history of MWSU at 5096 students attending. The next largest spring enrollment was in 2003. Fields said if the number of enrollment numbers continues to increase, Missouri Western will have to come up with some type of solution.
“I think it depends on the state funding, and what situation goes on there,” Fields said. “They may have to implement physical enrollment caps and since we are open enrollment it’s a little bit different than if you are a more selective institution. We may have to change our requirements too. A lot of things depend on what kind of funding the department gets. The budgets keep being restricted or decreased and we can’t keep up this kind of enrollment increase.”
Sophomore music major Jeremy Howe thinks the increase in class size with a lack of space makes it harder to learn in the classroom.
“Our class sizes have gotten a lot bigger,” Howe said. “In my general study classes we’re so packed I feel like a sardine. Now when I walk into a classroom, I have to look for a seat, instead of getting my pick.”
This is also apparent when registering for classes, as the general education classes are filling up very quickly.
This combined with the budget cuts are making it tough for the students to graduate on time. The classes are more in demand, but the classes are getting harder to find, as some are only being offered every other year because of the budget crunch.
One of the biggest assets for MWSU is the overall size of the campus at around 750 acres; this has turned into a detriment to the students who are racing between classes that are a long distance apart for the last decent seat in a classroom.
Retention of upperclassman is a big part of this number. The junior class had 930 enrolled this semester, a 14.96% increase from last spring, which were 809. This is good sign for the university; it means more of the students are finishing their degrees at MWSU instead of transferring out to another school.
Sophomore Emily Dyer thinks the enrollment numbers this semester is not a big problem right now, but if it continues to increase the campus is going to have to make some changes.
“The class sizes have grown, but I don’t think it’s a big issue right now there are still enough seats, but some plans need to be made in advance incase enrollment numbers continue to increase because the problem is going to get worse and MWSU needs to have long term plan,” Dyer said.
Apartment style living planned for Western’s new dormitory
The plan for new student housing on Missouri Western’s campus seems to finally be coming together to alleviate the shortage of available rooms of the past two years.
Further information was revealed at last Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting on the proposed dorm, which is expected to be completed for the fall semester of 2011. Vice President of Student Affairs Esther Perález stated that the new dorm will be a new approach to the way students will live on campus.
“We have been working with a housing committee and we are coming to a point on finding what we want in housing,” Perález said. “We know that it will be able to house 200 to 250 students person complex in apartment-style houses.”
Perález also stated that the rooms will feature kitchens, which will be a first for Missouri Western dorms.
“We are making this dorm as an upperclassmen dorm,” Perález said. “This two story building will have shared common lounges for each set of rooms and will be different than previous housing efforts. There will be single bedrooms, four persons to an area, with two bathrooms. There will also be a kitchen available for minor cooking necessities, so that it doesn’t take away from the campus dining services.”
According to Vice President of Financial Planning and Administration Mel Klinkner, the next step in the building process is securing a request for the qualifications of an architect, which is expected to be closed by March 2. The presentations will be held on March 15 through the 18 when a selection should be settled on.
Apartment-style housing has become fashionable on many different campuses and is what was requested during initial planning stages with the former Dean of Student Affairs Judy Grimes. During last December’s Board of Governors meeting, she revealed the initial committee’s findings.
“Apartment style housing is what we are seeing at other schools,” Grimes said.
The news of the planned dormitory moving ahead as scheduled comes on the heels of the Division of Student Affairs’ announcement of the February’s housing number.
Currently, there are 986 students who have been assigned to campus housing as of February 11. When the new dorm goes into place in 2011, campus housing will increase by almost 20 percent. This will help the problem of last fall where at one point, nearly 140 students were on standby for campus housing. This is a direct result of record enrollment over the last eleven semesters.
Perález also made the announcement that the retention rate for the school has jumped nearly 12 percent over 2007 to a total of 67 percent among full-time students enrolled. While the retention rate increase is good news for Missouri Western, it puts a crunch on housing among other departments.
“We’re really proud of that number,” Perález said. “However, we do recognize that we have to plan how we handle future students.”