TRCC, Southeast tout higher enrollment

TRCC numbers fall at outlying centers following breakup with Southeast.

Two feuding Bootheel colleges enrolled hundreds of students in competing higher education centers this fall.

That has officials of the rival schools both celebrating victory even though overall enrollment dropped at one of the schools.

Southeast Missouri State University estimated it has about 900 students enrolled solely at its three area higher education centers in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett.

There also are some students who are enrolled in classes on the main campus in Cape Girardeau and in classes at the outlying education centers, school officials said.

In all, the three centers at the end of August showed a combined enrollment of 1,160 students in 261 classes.

With the final enrollment deadline still a few weeks away, that number could grow, said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of administration and enrollment management.

Three Rivers Community College, based in Poplar Bluff, enrolled 513 students combined at the six centers it opened this fall.

TRCC's Sikeston center accounts for 216 of those students, college officials said Tuesday.

The six centers have 151 classes this semester.

TRCC opened centers in Sikeston, Malden, Bernie, Campbell, Kennett and Portageville after Southeast announced in February that was evicting TRCC from the three education centers where the two colleges had shared teaching duties for years.

Overall, enrollment at the six centers and the main campus combined dropped nearly 9 percent compared to a year ago. TRCC has 2,994 students enrolled in classes this fall compared to 3,277 a year ago.

At Southeast, total enrollment was up 6.4 percent at the start of this semester.

But TRCC officials aren't dismayed.

Enrollment on the TRCC campus at Poplar Bluff stood at a record 2,220 students, according to preliminary totals. Final enrollment won't be counted until later this month, TRCC president Dr. John Cooper said.

The drop in enrollment off the main campus didn't surprise TRCC officials.

TRCC executive vice president Dr. Larry Kimbrow said the community college had to rush to get the new centers established in just a few months.

"These off-campus enrollment numbers are even more amazing considering the abbreviated enrollment time frame we had available this summer due to the opening of the new centers," Kimbrow said.

Meanwhile, Southeast officials estimated that combined enrollment at their three centers equaled about 70 percent of the total number of students that took classes last fall when TRCC and Southeast shared the teaching load.

"We feel we have accomplished what we set out to do," said Provost Jane Stephens. "I do not believe we have compromised our quality at Southeast," she said.

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