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MSU Reports Increased Enrollment, Retention Despite Pandemic

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Murray State University Board of Regents

 

During the August 28 Murray State University Board of Regents meeting, Vice President for Student Affairs Don Robertson reported despite the current health pandemic, enrollment for MSU is ranking higher than the previous year. The university recently reported this is the second consecutive year of increased enrollment for incoming freshmen. Robertson said during Friday’s meeting that retention of last year’s freshmen has also increased.

The summer enrollment total headcount was up 9.5% and up in credit hours by 18.5%, Robertson reported. 

 

He added, “Undergraduate and graduate headcounts, in-state and out-of-state...across the board we were up in every category, which would be a phenomenal report for a regular summer but for the summer we just went through, is even more phenomenal.”

 

MSU regional campus enrollments are increased by more than 50% in comparison with last year, and Robertson said every campus is reporting an increase at this time.

 

As of Aug. 25, Robertson reported, the preliminary numbers indicate nearly 1,500 freshmen, which is an increase of a little more than 4% from last year and an increase of more than 6% in underrepresented minority freshmen. The incoming freshman class has an average GPA slightly higher than 3.56; 45% ranked in the top 25% of their class, and many have already earned college credits. The students represent 45 countries, 48 states (which is up three from last year) and 110 Kentucky counties.

 

Robertson said in terms of the 18-county focus region, the university has increased incoming freshmen by 11.6%, first-time transfers by 6.9%, first-time graduate students by 30%, and graduates by 5%. 

 

“We are focusing and doing very well in the 18 counties and that will certainly continue to be a focus area for us,” he said.

 

Regarding retention for the 2019 freshmen, Robertson reported an overall retention rate of 79% and a 75% retention rate for underrepresented minority students, which is an increase of 5% from the previous year. 

 

Robertson credited the personal attention to students as a main contributor to the increase in retention. He said that personal attention includes welfare calls and check-ins with students. 

MSU President Bob Jackson said, “It’s important to note our first-to-second-year retention ranks us just slightly behind the big blue school in Lexington. With 79% percent projected here, we may be knocking on their door in that regard. It takes everyone at this institution to be successful in this area and aside from teaching and learning, this is the most important thing we are doing.”

 

Jackson noted 71% of the university’s budget is dependent upon enrollment, and projected the budget will become more and more dependent upon enrollment in the future. 

 

“This fall is going to be tough, it’s going to be tough as we recruit for fall 2021,” he added. “The good news is, we have good numbers. The better news is, we get to do it again.”

 

In other business:

  • MSU Government and Institutional Relations Director Jordan Smith said the CARES Act 2.0 appears to be deadlocked. He said the House passed in May a HEROES Act which included $90 Billion in stimulus funding for education including K-12 and higher education. He said the Senate has not voted on the HEROES Act and instead is now planning to pass a Stimulus Skinny Bill which would provide approximately $105 billion to the education stabilization fund, two-thirds of which is slated for K-12 and one-third to higher education with a small stipend for each state governor. He said the details of the skinny bill haven’t been fully released yet but they anticipate it will be released soon. 

  • Regent Warren Norman was sworn by Chairman Jerry Rhoades in at the beginning of the meeting. Norman is the Student Regent, a senior who also serves as the MSU Student Government Association (SGA) president. He said the SGA hosted a blood drive this week for the American Red Cross and collected nearly double the amount expected; he said the ARC reported collecting enough in donations to help more than 300 patients.

  • Cris Ferguson was introduced as the Interim Dean of Libraries. She said she’s been with MSU for seven years. She said learning how to run the libraries in the midst of a pandemic has presented interesting challenges and thanked the board for their confidence in her ability to do so. 

  • MSU President Bob Jackson said the Racer Restart webpage is updated frequently as new information becomes available, sometimes on a daily basis and sometimes more than once per day. 

  • The board approved renaming the MSU Institute of Engineering to MSU School of Engineering. Dr. Danny Claiborne, Chair of the School of Engineering, said it’s been a work in progress for 20 years and appreciates the support of the board in that growth. Jackson reported exchanging emails with Dr. Jesse D. Jones (for whom the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology is named) who expressed support and excitement regarding the direction of the school.
Rachel’s interest in journalism began early in life, reading newspapers while sitting in the laps of her grandparents. Those interactions ignited a thirst for language and stories, and she recalls getting caught more than once as a young girl hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight and book because she just couldn’t stop reading.
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