Co-Lin tackles enrollment issues

Published 8:07 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

With the current economy, Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegeofficials are dealing with challenges related to increasedenrollment and less state funding, President Dr. Ronnie Nettlessaid.

Speaking Wednesday to the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club, Nettles saidCo-Lin has seen a 20 percent increase in enrollment over the lastthree years. Now with more than 4,000 students at its threecampuses in Wesson, Natchez and Simpson County, Co-Lin has morestudents than three state universities: Alcorn, Mississippi Valleyand the Mississippi University for Women.

“Our enrollment has been greatly impacted by what’s going on inthe economy right now,” Nettles said.

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In times of a bad economy, Nettles said people tend to go backto school to learn new skills and abilities to better positionthemselves in their efforts to find employment.

“I expect that trend to continue,” the president said.

However, in light of that fact, Co-Lin and other schools aredealing with reductions in funding support from the state. Nettlessaid Co-Lin lost about $1.6 million in state funding for its $24million budget.

To help adjust for that decrease, Nettles said tuition wasraised to where it now costs $1,100 per semester. And for the firsttime, college funding from tuition and fees surpasses financialsupport from the state.

“That’s almost unheard of,” said Nettles, adding that otherfunding support comes from counties within the community college’sdistrict.

The higher enrollment is creating “serious capacity issues” forCo-Lin, Nettles said. He alluded to parking concerns, full-timeinstructors taking on additional class duties and the use of moreadjunct instructors.

While there have been a number of bad circumstances, Nettlesalso highlighted a number of good things going on at Co-Lin.

Among them is a new $3 million dorm planned for the Wessoncampus. It will have 56 beds and take the place of Ellzey Hall, thecampus’ oldest dorm that is scheduled to be decommissioned as ahousing unit.

“This new dorm will help us out a lot,” Nettles said.

Nettles also mentioned a $4 million science and health carefacility in Natchez.

“That is going to be a good facility for us in the future,” hesaid.

Now at 658 students, the Simpson County facility has accountedfor much of Co-Lin’s enrollment growth in recent years. Nettlessaid residents of that community are wanting more offerings andCo-Lin will need to look at additional classroom space there.

“It has been tremendous,” Nettles said about enrollment andinterest in the Simpson County center.