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MSU students participate in welcome weekend activities.
Provided by Missouri State University
MSU students participate in welcome weekend activities.

Area colleges report mixed start to fall enrollment

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Last edited 1:09 p.m., Aug. 23, 2022

It's opening week for local higher-education institutions, and reports from school officials show a mixed bag in starting enrollment figures.

At Missouri State University, the area's largest higher-ed institution, 18,383 students were enrolled at the Springfield campus when classes started yesterday, according to a news release. That's down 2.9% from opening day in fall 2021.

“Over the next six months, we’re implementing a transformation plan to bolster our enrollment over the coming year,” MSU President Clif Smart said in the release. “We have new folks in critical leadership positions who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in this area. Increases in international, graduate and transfer enrollment reflect a strong start to this plan.”

Official enrollment is scheduled to be available Sept. 26.

Ozarks Technical Community College has 9,509 students enrolled to start, said spokesperson Mark Miller. That's down by about 500 students from starting day last year.

Noting the official census for the fall semester is Sept. 19, Miller said international student enrollment is up 30%, with out-of-state enrollment up 8% and technical education up 2%.

The fall semester additionally marks the first for OTC's $40 million Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

Drury University's total starting enrollment this fall is 1,386, said spokesperson Jasmine Cooper. That's up from 1,345 in fall 2021.

In a news release, Drury announced this fall it's welcoming the largest incoming freshman class in the school’s 149-year history. Yesterday, 413 freshmen started classes, up from a previous record of 406 set in 2010. They're part of an entering class of 490, including transfer students.

“This is really a testament to Drury’s unique ability to bounce back quickly. It takes an entire campus to recruit a Panther, and everyone stepped up their game this year; we’re seeing the fruits of that,” said Kevin Kropf, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications, in the release. “We are thankful to regain a sense of normalcy, and our students are excited to be on campus with their friends and immersed in the Drury experience.”

Chris Belcher, vice president for enrollment management at Evangel University, declined to estimate a starting figure, noting "enrollment is fluid with students still completing registration."

Evangel's undergraduate enrollment is up over last year with an expected 16% increase in freshman and transfer students, Belcher said, noting nontraditional student populations have trended up over the past year, as has seminary enrollment.

The school's fall 2021 enrollment was 2,129, said spokesperson Erin Hedlun.

At College of the Ozarks, starting enrollment is 1,486, said spokesperson Valorie Coleman.

Officials with Southwest Baptist University and Baptist Bible College did not provide enrollment data by deadline.

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