Troy University has seen a steady increase in student population in the last couple of years.
However, with growth comes new hurdles and opportunities for students and administration.
Growing student numbers has brought about a need for growth in infrastructure and services provided to students.
“The Troy campus is the place that has our single largest concentration of students in one area,” said Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Hal Fulmer, who has been a part of the university since 2002.
As the number of incoming traditional students increases, so does the number of non-traditional students, especially online or at other locations like Montgomery, Dothan and Phoenix City.
“We have a goal of making a progress for this campus towards 10,000 students,” Fulmer said. “We’re already at around 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and it has a good, comfortable feel.”
To meet the needs of this growing population, the university campus has undergone multiple renovations. The dining hall was rebuilt, and Trojan Center was recently restructured.
“That was an understanding of not only more students that were likely to be coming but students who wanted more food choices,” Fulmer said.
Changes have also been made to academic buildings like MSCX, the math and science complex, which was remodeled in 2016. The old dining hall, Stewart Hall, was remade to become the International Arts Center, which finished remodeling in 2017. This center serves as an art gallery and also houses classes that Malone Hall cannot accommodate.
The new recreational and wellness center is planned to be completed in the next few years, taking place of Sartain Hall.
Requirements for the scholarships that originally attracted hoards of students have gone up every academic year.
The university also plans to add four more undergraduate degrees, one of which is a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies, which is essentially a made-to-order degree program created by students.
The media of teaching and learning is obviously changing. Students are no longer reliant on just handwritten notes and physical books.
“Our information technology people are very aware that students are bringing more and more multi-platform devices,” Fulmer said. “You have to have the IT backbone for that to run.
“Those kind of things are a part of a constant discussion to address more students and changing students’ needs.”
The growth in student population and changes in the demographics might not be obvious, but students have definitely noticed the changes around them.
“Troy is growing at a good rate,” said Clay Graham, a junior psychology major from Moulton. “In some ways it’s almost outgrowing itself.”
He pointed out that the financial support provided by the university has attracted more students, which has caused problems finding housing.
Gina Girgis, a sophomore computer science and mathematics major from Alexandria, Egypt, says she has been noticing more non-traditional students on campus.
“On one side, it means less scholarships and less funds; on the other side, more people means more opportunities,” Girgis said about the growth of the university.
Troy University aims to be accessible to students from all walks of life.
“We want to meet you on the road where you are and try to help you,” Fulmer said.
To do so, the university has multiple resources both physical and online. The Center for Student Success tracks how many students come in every year.
“We have over 40,000 student visits,” Fulmer said. “As head counts go up, that number will increase and lead to conversations about how we can meet their needs.”
For incoming students, there is a two-day program in the summer where they can get oriented to the university. International students get their orientation a couple of days before classes start.
The university also has units on campus active all through summer to assist the incoming students.
“International students are not given the same amount of information and awareness, and a lot of people are quite lost,” Girgis said. “I would have been better off if I knew how the classes worked before I came here, or if I knew about things like CLEP.”
“Our international students often don’t have the luxury of coming during the summer for programs like IMPACT,” Fulmer said. “We are talking about how we can expand the orientation process for our internationals so that they are more integrated into the life on campus.”
Hopefully, the administration will be able to communicate with students to understand their needs and address problems before they have to play catch-up.