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Published: Wednesday, 1/27/2010

Student enrollment slips at Owens, BGSU


Owens Community College experienced a drop in student enrollment this spring for the first time in more than three years.

Bowling Green State University also saw a decline this semester, while enrollment at the University of Toledo continued to rise.

The economy is playing a significant role at Owens with the decline credited to 1,600 fewer students receiving work-force training, college officials said.

But the economy and other factors are credited for increasing enrollments at the University of Toledo, Lourdes College, Mercy College of Northwest Ohio, and community colleges across northwest Ohio.

Owens has 20,646 students enrolled this spring compared to 21,707 this time last year, which is a nearly 4.9 percent decrease.

A large reason for the drop of 1,061 students is the decline of those 1,600 work-force training students, said Bill Ivoska, Owens' vice president of student services.

“It's exclusively in contract training and industry,” he said. “[Employers] are being very selective on when they choose to offer programs.”

There are 17,667 students on Owens' Toledo area locations — the main campus in Perrysburg Township and its learning centers at The Source and Arrowhead Park — and 2,979 at the college's Findlay campus.

This is the first enrollment decline for Owens since fall 2006.

There was no decline in nursing, Mr. Ivoska said, despite the college's loss of accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission in July.

“Nursing did not go down in any significant way,” he said.

BGSU'S enrollment slipped to 18,756 students this spring compared to 18,904 last year.

The university recently changed its enrollment formula and does not count students who are on internship or co-op work experiences, but the decline of 148 students is an apples-to-apples comparison. The enrollment drop, which is less than 1 percent, was expected because there were fewer students in the fall semester of this 2009-10 school year.

Albert Colom, BGSU's vice president for enrollment management, said in the fall the university will start to see the effects of its increased efforts to recruit and retain more students.

“We have really turned around by doing more things and doing them earlier in the recruitment cycle,” he said, adding that there have been increased campus visits, applications, and admissions for next school year.

Enrollment on BGSU's main campus in Bowling Green is down 206 students from 2009. The university's Firelands Campus in Huron is up 58 students from 2009.

Meanwhile, UT's enrollment climbed by 819 this spring, with 21,594 students on campus compared to 20,775 last spring.

The 3.9 percent total increase includes more transfer students, new adult students, and a better retention of current students, said Kevin Kucera, UT's associate vice president of enrollment services. The university also is experiencing growth in the health-related fields of study, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, he said.

It's also the first semester since the university began a new “More” marketing campaign that has been well received, said Larry Burns, UT's vice president of external affairs. “I'm encouraged by this continual increase. I believe it is part of our ongoing success we've fortunately had,” he said. “It isn't luck. It's not by accident. It's all a strategic measurement of the things we're trying to do as we recruit students.”

Lourdes College has a 5 percent increase in students, with 2,131 this year compared to 2,028 in 2009.

Bob Helmer, president of the college in Sylvania, attributes the growth to new student services, such as launching athletics, and additional academic programs, such as a new master's degree in theology.

Mercy College of Northwest Ohio's enrollment is up 20 percent with 951 students this spring, compared to 792 students in 2008. The college credits its continued increases with more people choosing health-care education to advance their position or start a new career.

Terra Community College has 26.8 percent more students attending classes than last year. The college, located in Fremont, has 3,326 students this spring compared to 2,622 in 2009, an increase of 704 students.

Northwest State Community College in Archbold has 4,468 students this spring, a 23.8 percent increase. Lowering tuition and increasing access with satellite campuses have contributed to the increases, college President Tom Stuckey said.

James A. Rhodes State College in Lima has 3,946 students enrolled for its current winter quarter, which is 447 students more than the corresponding quarter last year when there were 3,499 students. The nearly 12.8 percent increase this spring follows a record-breaking fall enrollment of 4,147 students at the college.

Contact Meghan Gilbert-Cunningham at: mcunningham@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.

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