/Enrollment growth warrants updates to Troy campus

Enrollment growth warrants updates to Troy campus

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Tori Bedsole

Editor-in-Chief

According to administrators, upgrades and additions will need to be made to the Troy campus in areas such as dining, housing, parking, staffing and academics to accommodate an increase in enrollment.

Chancellor Jack Hawkins and the Troy University Board of Trustees drafted and passed a proposal with the goal “to have the capacity to serve 10,000 students by fall 2020.”

As of fall 2016, the Troy campus enrolled 7,864 students.

“Consistent growth puts us in a position to be a strong institution,” said Herbert Reeves, dean of student services. “With the growth that we’ve seen since I’ve been here, we really have become a worldwide, international university.”

Although the administration envisions this increase, it knows the growth must be steady over many years rather than all at once.

“Growth must be envisioned as a stair-step process requiring annual absorption of an increasing student population,” the document states. “Excessive growth in any one year will create difficulties in providing high quality service to students.

“Enrollment growth will optimize the use of existing classrooms and campus resources and will enhance student participation in honors programs, campus organizations, and attendance at intercollegiate athletic events.”

“Many investments necessary for enrollment growth will pay for themselves through fees, such as recreation fees, lab fees, parking fees, and housing fees,” the document states.

Additions to dining services include a revamping of the Trojan Center dining options by fall 2017. Marketplace will be removed, Chick-fil-A will become a full-service operation, A&W will be replaced with a Steak ’n Shake (which serves steakburgers and milkshakes) and the old game room will be transformed into a Marble Slab ice cream creamery with additional seating, according to Reeves and other administrators.

“It (growth) allows you to expand the offerings and programs that you have,” Reeves said. “I think it increases the support for athletics, arts and other activities on campus.”

Parking is a concern for many students. Blain Wakefield, a senior political science major from Wilsonville, said an increase in students would make parking worse.

“Parking is already terrible, with more parking decals sold than spots available, and the spots that are not used are far away which is inconvenient because that means a 15-minute walk,” Wakefield said. “With 10,000 students, that means we would need to double our parking spots.”

John Dew, senior vice chancellor of student services, said the university plans to have a new parking lot completed by May or June 2017 which will include 600 parking spaces. The parking lot will be located between the Trojan Center and the track after the ravine is filled in.

Enrollment increases will also lead to expanded activity and organization offerings on campus, according to Dew.

“We are going to add one more sorority (Alpha Omicron Pi) which will begin recruitment after regular recruitment in the fall,” Dew said.

Dew also discussed the importance of revamping the student health center.

“We are going to make a few changes by August of this year, but it may take us a year or two for all of it,” Dew said. “We have entered into some discussions with some of the hospitals in the area and with SARHA (Southeast Alabama Rural Health Associates) and are exploring two or three different options of what we can do to handle the capacity of students at the student health center.

“That’s high on the list.”

The university also has plans to complete a new residence hall by August 2018. Currently, the university has the capacity to house only 2,348 students.

“Three locations are under current consideration for a new residence hall,” the document states.

According to Dew, one of the locations for a new dormitory is between the track and where new parking lot behind the Trojan Center will be.

Academically, the university has “the room to push out,” according to Hal Fulmer, associate provost and dean of first-year studies, especially with the availability of online classes.

“We are committed to not having monster class sizes,” Fulmer said. “We have classrooms that we can tap into.”

According to Dew and Fulmer, “managed growth” will bring the opportunity for new programs.

“We are already doing some interesting things right now,” Fulmer said. “We have begun to develop some bridge programs so that some of our really good students, in that last semester if they are interested in graduate school, they can take graduate courses for an advanced master’s degree.”

According to Fulmer, the university has enough classrooms to accommodate an increase in students, but needs to stretch the day in order to add more class times at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.

Andrew Dearing, a junior criminal justice major from Montgomery and the previous Student Government Association vice president of legislative affairs, said there are benefits and challenges to consider with the university’s goal.

“I want to see Troy grow and have an even more extended Trojan family,” Dearing said. “But the university must make accommodations for the students already here.

“In order to advance, we must increase tuition. And when this happens, our standards for admission rise as well. Since I’ve been here, they have raised admission and scholarship requirements, and we should expect to see this again if the student population keeps rising at the rate it is, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Troy is just raising their standards—which, long-term speaking, is a good thing. Short-term, it can be inconvenient for current students.”