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Student enrollment number reach all-time high at Shepherd

November 25, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Which academic programs should be expanded in coming years at Shepherd College, and what kind of new facilities should be built to serve growing numbers of students at the school?

Should the college create more central plaza areas for students and faculty to gather, and should it erect attractive crosswalks and sidewalk entryways around the campus to distinguish it from the town?

Those are the types of issues being debated at Shepherd College now that the school has hit a milestone in is growth.

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School officials have learned that the number of full-time students at the school is the highest it has ever been.

To determine full-time student enrollment, college officials compute what they call the "full-time equivalent enrollment."

The full-time equivalent enrollment is determined by taking the total number of class hours being taken by every student and dividing it by 15 hours, the minimum of hours for a full-time student, said college spokeswoman Valerie Owens.

Shepherd College's full-time equivalent enrollment for the fall semester is 3,586, college officials said.

That is an increase of 169 students over last fall's enrollment, school officials say.

The college takes a head count enrollment but that is not a good indicator of full-time students because the number includes part-time students, Owens said.

The college's head count enrollment is 4,767, a 6.5 percent increase over last fall's total of 4,391, the release said.

Now that Shepherd College has reached record enrollment, school officials have hosted open discussions on campus about how large some of the academic programs at the school should become and how the layout of the school should be designed as it grows, said college President David L. Dunlop.

Having meetings of 50 people or so on a college campus about school growth - or any issue - is not likely to bring much consensus, Dunlop said.

"If you don't have 50 different ideas, you will have 49 different ideas," Dunlop said.

But one area school administrators have not suggested is limiting the school to a top enrollment figure, Dunlop said.

School officials will probably not address that issue until "people start saying it's too big or when our students start saying it's too big," Dunlop said.

"We don't know what too big is. But we hope we'll recognize it before we get there," Dunlop said.

What administrators are looking at is which curriculum areas can handle more students to make maximum use of their faculties, Dunlop said.

While some study programs like computer science and environmental science are "busting at the seams" with students, there are other curriculums that have much lower numbers of students, Dunlop said.

Dunlop said school officials are considering recruiting students for those areas to make maximum use of the teachers in those programs.

Another issue that has risen in the open campus discussions is whether the school's student center, currently located on the east campus, should be moved to the newer west campus, Dunlop said.

Shepherd is planning to build a new 400-bed dormitory complex on the west campus for its growing student population and some school officials believe the student center should be moved to that area as the school grows, Dunlop said.

Others argue the student center should remain at the downtown campus because it is important for it to be close to facilities like the library, Dunlop said.

This year marks the third year in a row Shepherd College has not had enough rooms for all the students who wanted to live in its dorms.

Shepherd has space for 1,048 students in its 12 dormitory buildings, but this year there were 28 additional students who signed up to stay in dorms, school administrators said.

That means school officials had to find extra space to house the students. They did so by converting several study lounges into dorm rooms, school officials said.

School officials hope to have the new 400-bed dormitory complex completed by 2004. At the same time, there are plans to create new parking areas on the west campus to accommodate 400 to 500 cars, Dunlop said.

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