The Cape Girardeau Partnership for Higher Education is at its midway point of a three-year evaluation. The future of the collaboration between the region's community colleges and its state university is still largely uncertain, officials say.
The partnership was the focus of a presentation during the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce's First Friday Coffee at the Show Me Center.
Dr. Gerald McDougall, Southeast Missouri State University's associate provost of extended and online learning, gave attendees a look at the partnership's programming and enrollment trends.
The partnership between the university, Mineral Area College and Three Rivers College offers general education instruction which allows students to earn prerequisites for transfer to a four-year college, associate of arts degrees administered through Three Rivers and associate of applied science degrees issued through Mineral Area. Courses are offered at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center. Enrollment in programs and course offerings has grown steadily since the partnership began in 2010. In the first semester, fall 2010, 183 students were enrolled in 29 courses. Fall 2011 saw an enrollment of 284 students in 47 courses.
McDougall said he expects to see that trend continue.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the spring enrollment exceeds the fall enrollment by some amount," he said.
Eighty percent of the partnership's students are from Cape Girardeau County. The service region of the partnership also includes the Career and Technology Center's service area.
Observations by McDougall about the partnership were focused on judgments he said would need to be made about the composition of its market and sustainability of programs in the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013.
The observations of the partnership at the midway point included a need to continue evaluating enrollment trends and program offerings, that a diverse set of reasons students attend exists and that there is a retention rate that is difficult to define or interpret.
Those observations reflect an unbiased perception, he said, because he is someone who was uninvolved when the partnership began.
When the partnership has statistics available after the three-year point, more precise judgments about the composition of the partnership's market and the programming that will be available and sustainable should be more evident, he said.
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