Crowder College enrollment has hit record numbers this spring.

Crowder College enrollment has hit record numbers this spring.

According to college officials, Crowder saw a 3.8 percent increase from spring 2011, bringing the current total enrollment to 4,724 students.

Jim Riggs, director of admissions, said the college is pleased with the new numbers.

“We’ve been experiencing phenomenal growth for several years,” Riggs said. “We began to see last fall that we’re leveling off a little bit, but we’re still increasing. I think if you pay attention to what’s going on in the area and across the state you’ll see that this is a trend that is not unusual.”

According to numbers released by Riggs, the college has seen 16.67 percent growth since spring 2010.

To address the growing enrollment, Crowder has continued to expand, with a total of nine locations spread across nine counties.

“Every time you open a new location or give another opportunity for students to attend you have increased your circle of influence,” Riggs said.

Crowder began offering courses in Monett, Lamar and Greenfield last semester, and in Mt. Vernon this semester.

The college also offers courses in Jane, and has full-degree programs in Webb City, Cassville, Nevada, and Neosho.

The college is also working toward a new McDonald County campus in Jane.

Groundbreaking is expected to start on that location this spring.

Crowder officials plan to build a FEMA shelter at the Webb City location, as well as remodel the current building.

The Crowder College board of trustees voted Thursday morning at their monthly meeting to approve Paragon Architects of Springfield to design the new facility.

“We’re hoping that within the next week, we’ll actually know where we’re at with FEMA,” said vice president of finance Jim Cummins.

He said if the FEMA grant goes through as quickly as anticipated, the timetable for Webb City work would begin soon.

He said the designs should be completed by July, allowing for bidding and federal review of the designs to be completed by August or September. In October, groundwork should begin, the shelter would then be completed by July 2013, and the remodeling would then be completed by the spring semester of 2014.

Cummins said the total amount of the grant is $1.55 million.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, board members heard from students who have benefited from the several Crowder locations.

Stephanie Skaggs, a senior in high school from Monett, has been taking dual-credit courses at her high school through Crowder.

“I started my junior year, and by the time that I graduate this May I’ll have 30 hours of Crowder classes,” said Stephanie Skaggs. “I would just like to thank Crowder for helping me to go this far before I graduate.”

Rhonda Preston, a Crowder student in Greenfield, chose to go back to school after she and her husband closed the family business in town.

“We made a life change and when we found out that Crowder came to Greenfield it gave me the opportunity to go back to school,” Preston said. “It’s been a very positive experience.”

In other business, Crowder officials voted Thursday to approve a differential tuition program that would raise tuition rates by 20 percent on advanced classes in the occupational therapy assistant program, veterinary technology program and nursing program.

Dr. Herb Schade, senior vice president of administration, said the rate increase does not result in revenue for the college, but instead covers the added costs that come with the advanced courses.  Dr. Alan Marble, Crowder College President, said in an attempt to offset the rate increase, the college plans to decrease the clinical fees for those programs by 25 percent.

He said those fees pay for the lab classes students in the selected programs require. Over a four-year time period, students pay $1,000 in clinical fees to the college. The decrease will cut $250 off the student’s clinical fees over that time period.

The board also approved the hire of Donna Tunnell to head the occupational therapy assistant program. The program was scheduled to begin this August, however, the former director of the program resigned in January.

Schade said that in order to meet accreditation requirements, the program needs a director with a master’s degree who has teaching experience. Tunnell does not have college-level teaching experience, so Schade said the program may need to be pushed back to January. He said D’Ann Dennis, director of nursing and health programs, is requesting an exemption to allow the program to begin in August. However, if that is not granted, the start date will be pushed back to allow for Tunnell to gain teaching experience.

Following the regular board meeting, the board members met in closed session pursuant to RSMo 610-021 (2) and (3), to conduct the evaluation of Marble, and to discuss a real estate matter.