Friday, October 14, 2005

Fairmont State's enrollment this fall has reached record high numbers.

Combined enrollment for Fairmont State University and Fairmont State Community & Technical College has reached 7,740, an increase of about 4.2 percent from last fall.

FSU's total enrollment has reached 4,730, which reflects an increase of about 14.4 percent. Enrollment in FSU's School of Graduate Studies has grown by 50 percent.

"This is our fifth consecutive year of enrollment growth," said Dr. Daniel J. Bradley, President of Fairmont State University. "We're really excited. Our growth shows that our student base appreciates some of the changes that have been going on here. With the implementation of new programs at all levels, we expect our enrollment to continue to grow into the future."

FSC&TC's total enrollment is at 3,010, a decrease of 8.1 percent. The decrease is due to the shift of two-year nursing and engineering technology programs from FSC&TC to FSU, which occurred this fall. Enrollment in FSC&TC's off-campus courses continues to grow.

"Shifting two-year nursing and engineering technology students from enrollment in FSC&TC to FSU was done as part of an agreement between the institutions to minimize overlap so they have better defined and distinct missions," said Blair Montgomery, FSC&TC President.

"The faculty who are teaching these courses are university faculty, and FSC&TC was contracting with them for their services. These are expensive programs to maintain. Moving the programs under FSU allows us to work within FSC&TC to restructure and develop other programs that fit more with the institution's mission."

The restructuring of the community college is going to allow for future enrollment growth from a number of new programs that will be announced during the coming months. From year to year, it is common that one institution (FSU or FSC&TC) would have lower enrollment numbers than the other; however, the overall trend is for growth in both institutions.

FSU offers more than 90 baccalaureate majors, as well as graduate programs in nursing, education and criminal justice. FSC&TC offers more than 50 associate degree programs, certificates and skill-set certificates, plus non-credit workforce training and community education. FSC&TC serves sites in 13 counties in West Virginia: Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Taylor and Upshur.

Bradley and Montgomery attribute overall growth at Fairmont State to improved retention rates, new academic programs, expansion in distance learning offerings and the Fairmont State GEAR UP Partnership Grant.

Fairmont State's new facilities on its main campus include a new residence hall, student center and parking garage. Bryant Place, the new suite-style residence hall, which was completely open for the first time this fall, houses 400 students. The 126,000 square foot Falcon Center, which officially opened in January, features new dining facilities, the FS Bookstore, the Copy Center, Campus Safety, Student Health and recreation facilities. Parking on campus became easier with the opening of the 940-space parking garage in 2004.

GEAR-UP supports early college preparation and awareness activities for low-income students. In 1999, Fairmont State received the largest of 164 GEAR UP partnership grants awarded throughout the U.S. The original grant, initially for five years, was extended for a sixth year and served middle and high school students in nine counties. The U.S. Department of Education announced in August that the Fairmont State GEAR-UP Partnership received a new six-year grant for more than $31.7 million and would be able to expand the program to five additional counties.