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Monday, August 06, 2007

FVSU expecting boost in enrollment

All indicators show that the student population at Fort Valley State University should increase significantly this semester.
"We're expecting a large new student arrival," said Donovan Coley, interim director of admissions.

The school received 3,393 new student applications for the fall semester, which is a 62 percent increase over the nearly 2,000 applications received last fall.

The $44 million housing complex called Wildcat Commons, which will house 950 students, is filled to capacity and the school's pre-existing dorms are overflowing.

Students begin moving in today and classes begin Aug. 13.

The likely surge in new students would bolster a trend that began with last fall's increased enrollment. The university increased its freshman enrollment from 688 in fall 2005 to 867 in fall 2006. The fall 2005 freshman enrollment was the lowest the school has seen in the past 10 years.

Since then, the school has rebounded in its efforts to entice area students.

In March 2006, an energetic Larry E. Rivers arrived on campus as the school's new president. Rivers, along with his staff and faculty, has placed a heavy emphasis on recruitment of new students.

Practically everybody at FVSU from the leadership on down to the students has recruited heavily for the university, Coley said.

An aggressive marketing campaign where the school has promoted its brand and image was also cited as a contributing factor to the larger number of student applicants.

Coley says the school is also focusing on improving its customer service. For the next two weeks, the Office of Admissions, Financial Aid and Recruitment will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate incoming students.

"We're making it convenient," Coley said, adding the school is still admitting new students for the fall semester.

Terrance Smith, vice president for student affairs, said the university is preparing itself for the influx of students. The university has implemented an enrollment contingency task force designed to ensure measures are in place to accommodate the expected surge in campus population.

Measures include opening additional class sections, employing more personnel, relocating offices to allow for space and expanding the food service area.

Plans also call for adding 350 to 400 units to the Wildcat Commons housing complex.

"We took a holistic and comprehensive approach to ensure that we're positioning ourselves to provide optimal customer service to our great students," Smith said.

Another focus is on retaining the new students who are entering FVSU, he added.

Smith cited the first-year experience center as an example. Housed in the Lottie Lyons Student Center, the center is a collaborative effort between the departments of student affairs and academic affairs.

First-year students will have access to professionals from various segments of the university. Mentoring, seminars and workshops, guest speakers and other programs and services will be available as the students transition to college life.

"We're looking to be the light of the path for many students," Coley said

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