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Shepherd enrollment continues to climb

October 13, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Another year at Shepherd University, another trend: Record numbers of students and steady efforts to meet their growing needs.

Enrollment at the school this fall has reached 5,209 students, the first time the school's population has topped 5,000, school officials said.

The enrollment figure, which includes students from the Community and Technical College of Shepherd in Martinsburg, W.Va., bettered last year's enrollment of 4,836, school officials said.

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The 5,209 enrollment number - referred to as a head count - is one of two enrollment figures developed by school officials.

The head-count number includes part-time students.

The school's 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 amount of hours for a full-time student.

This fall, full-time equivalent enrollment hit a record level with 3,863 students, a 3.6 percent increase over the 3,727 students counted last year, school officials said.

A Shepherd University official said she believes the school's popularity can be attributed to a combination of affordable tuition and faculty members who possess "unusually outstanding credentials."

Yearly tuition at Shepherd runs $3,654 for in-state students and $9,234 for out-of-state students, said Marie Carter, vice president for enrollment management.

"It's just a great deal," Carter said.

University officials are especially proud of the record enrollment because it occurred in the same year that Shepherd was named by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top five comprehensive public four-year colleges and universities in the south.

"We are pleased to see Shepherd University and the Community and Technical College of Shepherd continue to grow and thrive," Andy Michael, chairman of Shepherd's Board of Governors, said in a news release.

"It is always exciting when you see record-breaking numbers, and it's nice to be recognized for our high quality at the same time we celebrate quantity," he said.

Shepherd officials have added more parking space and plan new dormitory facilities to accommodate the growing number of students.

This year marks the fifth year in a row that the school did not have enough room for all the students who wanted to live in the school's dormitories.

As in previous years, some students had to temporarily stay in study lounges that were converted into living space, Carter said.

But school officials were able to quickly move those students into regular rooms, Carter said.

Insufficient parking has been a long-standing issue at the university and this summer, a 435-space parking lot was opened, Carter said.

Shepherd officials are developing a new apartment complex on the west campus. The first phase of the complex is expected to be completed in 2006 and will have 300 beds, Carter said.

A second phase of the complex is planned, but it is not clear when that will be completed, Carter said.

On a recent afternoon, the east campus was bustling with activity as students walked through the intersection of King and High streets.

Lindsey Wagner, who was seated on a nearby bench reading, said one of the reasons she was attracted to Shepherd University is because it is close to her home of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Wagner, a freshman, said she decided to go to Shepherd because she knew she could get an education here that would be as good as she could get at any school in New York.

"I was pretty nervous about the whole idea of college and I just wanted to keep it as close to home as I could," Wagner said.

Tim Meloni of Elkins, W.Va., said he likes Shepherd because of the quality of instruction he receives. He said he also enjoys it because of the location.

A lot of towns are within a short driving distance from the school, offering students the chance to go someplace different to eat or participate in activities, he said.

"It's like you have a nice little oasis," said Meloni, a junior, who is studying history and English.

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