Enrollment increases have created a need for expansion at Crowder College.

Enrollment increases have created a need for expansion at Crowder College.

Numbers released Thursday show a steady upward trend for the college with a more than 12 percent increase in enrollment over last spring. While the school has increased their retention efforts and grown program offerings, those actions alone cannot account for their growth, said Crowder College President Dr. Alan Marble. Their people, he said, help the college grow.

“It reflects our dedication to trying to provide students what they need in a caring helpful fashion,” Marble said.  

The economy, he noted, does play a role. Enrollment at community colleges is on the rise as adult students looking for retraining join new high school graduates taking advantage of lower tuition rates. Crowder’s rate of growth, however, is faster than similar schools.

The increased headcount produced a 13.68 percent increase in total credit hours with the school reaching 44,619 credit hours this semester. The number of full-time students has shot up 13.69 percent over last year to 2,974 students.

“I do think it’s interesting that headcount – which is just the number of people – and FTE, which is full time equivalent students, are up almost the identical amount,” Marble said. “It tells me that people are taking more hours. People who were part time students before are maybe not working as many hours as they were and now they’re taking more college hours.”

Numbers are up 12.47 percent in overall enrollment from last spring, a semester with traditionally fewer students than fall where new high school graduates buoy the numbers. Crowder’s spring enrollment of 4,454, however, eclipsed their 2009 fall enrollment of 4,407. There were 5,219 students who enrolled at Crowder this fall.

“It’s a big number,” Marble said. “It’s a good problem to have, but trying to keep up with the growth is becoming a challenge. State funding is shrinking and we don’t like to raise tuition on the students if we can help it, but we have to have more people to teach the classes that the students are demanding.

“It’s a juggling act.”

The school’s next planned expansion is construction of the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology Center. Bids were opened Thursday by their construction manager.

“We’re hoping to break ground March 1,” Marble said. “We need that building.”
With the Davidson Hall expansion now complete the MARET Center will be their next big project.

“What it does, though, is give us the ability to move all our alternative energy programs all into one place,” Marble said, “then get serious about the business of helping companies accelerate product development and incubate new companies and hopefully create some new jobs.”

Other additions have been discussed, including the completion of the residence hall diamond, but classroom space has been a priority, Marble said. Plans are still being developed for more housing.

Temporary gravel parking has been put in just west of Davidson Hall. More parking is needed, but the school is not sure where it fits on campus. There are plans to rework the pothole-laced parking lot in front of the Farber building, but no time frame.

Other campuses are also cramped for space. In Webb City, the school has discussed purchasing land and other options, but no decisions have been made yet.

“They have grown exponentially and are just bursting at the seams,” Marble said of the Webb City campus.