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Shepherd's growth trend continues

September 17, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Shepherd College officials say they are continuing their efforts to meet the needs of an ever-growing student body.

College officials reported that Shepherd's full-time equivalent enrollment has increased to 3,711 students, a 3 percent jump over last year, when 3,586 students went to the school.

Last year's full-time enrollment was the highest in school history.

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

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, college officials have said.

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It appears Shepherd College's head count enrollment will be 4,808 this year, which would beat the previous record of 4,703 set in 2000.

This fall's freshman class also is expected to set a record, with 837 students enrolled. The previous record was 774 students in 2002.

College President David L. Dunlop said the enrollment increases are significant because they show the school is central to the region's intellectual and cultural vitality.

"This is an exciting time for Shepherd College," Dunlop said.

Such increases mean the college must continue its efforts to expand dormitory and classroom space, as well as parking, to serve the students.

This year marks the fourth year in a row that the college has not had enough room for all the students who wanted to live in its dorms.

Shepherd has space for 1,048 students in its 12 dormitory buildings, but there are 46 additional students who signed up to stay in dorms this year, said Marie Carter, Shepherd College's vice president for enrollment management.

That number has decreased to 19 students, Carter said Tuesday.

As in past years, the 19 students are living in rooms such as study lounges that have been converted into living space.

"As we continue to grow, we will be faced with these challenges until we can get our space expanded," Carter said.

Shepherd officials have been planning to build a 600-bed apartment complex on the west campus that was to be completed by next year.

The completion date was pushed back to 2006 to allow college officials to do more market demand analysis, Carter said.

Lack of parking has been a long-standing issue at the college and two years ago, a temporary, 300-space parking lot was set up on the west campus to free up more space.

Another new parking lot nearby is expected to be finished in the spring and will have 435 spaces, Carter said.

Although classroom sizes have not been greatly affected by the enrollment jumps, work is under way to expand the Frank Creative Arts Center to create more study space for students, Carter said.

Kile Imus, president of Shepherd's Student Government Association, said lack of parking is what bothers students the most.

"Realistically, parking on any campus is a pain," Imus said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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