For the second consecutive year, the University of Missouri expects a drop in enrollment for the fall freshman class.
About 4,000 first-time college students are expected to enroll in August, according to an MU news release Friday. As of this past Monday, 4,009 students paid the fall enrollment deposits, which is the figure officials used to make their projection. Last year at this time, that number was 4,738 students. That represents about a 15 percent drop.
Most freshmen are first-time college students, and when MU talks about the freshmen class, it means all first-time college students. Students can continue to enroll throughout the summer, so the projection could fluctuate. MU hasn’t enrolled fewer than 4,000 first-time students since 1999, according to MU enrollment data.
From fall 2015 to fall 2016, MU saw its freshman class decrease by 1,605 students, according to MU enrollment data. MU’s fall 2016 class, which includes first-time students as well as transfer students, was 5,995 students compared to 7,600 the year before. First-time college students decreased from 6,191 in 2015 to 4,772 in 2016. Every department at MU saw enrollment decreases from 2015 to 2016 except for the College of Human Environmental Science.
Officials have attributed the decreases to several causes. One factor was the Concerned Student 1950 protests in fall 2015, which generated national media coverage and led to the resignations of then-UM System President Tim Wolfe and then-MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
During a UM System Board of Curators meeting last week, new UM System President Mun Choi said the system is anticipating a $9 million decline in revenue across its four campuses, according to previous Missourian reporting. The system could increase tuition and fees for current students to make up for the shortfall. The increase would add about $200 to undergraduate resident students and about $500 to out-of-state students.
In preparation for the lower enrollment at MU, Residential Life decided to temporarily close seven residence halls for the 2017-2018 school year: Center, Responsibility, Discovery, Respect, Excellence, Schurz and McDavid, according to previous Missourian reporting. Center was built in 2006, and Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence were built in 2004. Schurz was renovated in 2008, and McDavid was renovated in 2007.
MU is taking a proactive approach to turn around its enrollment by creating the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee. Pat Okker, interim dean of the College of Arts and Science, and Pelema Morrice, vice provost for enrollment management, will co-chair the committee. The committee will also have at least four faculty members, two staff members and two students.