Central Wins Enrollment Trifecta

campus-drone.JPGThe fall semester is under way, and Central Methodist University is standing out among the leaders in the state’s colleges and universities in enrollment, athletics, and community investment.

Central has completed an unprecedented trifecta – a three-year period of growth in new student enrollment metrics, said Dr. Joe Parisi, vice president for enrollment management and athletics. Parisi said it was Central’s strongest three-year period in history, while many higher education institutions are losing enrollment rapidly.

“We’ve seen some college closures around the nation and millions of dollars lost in revenue,” Parisi said. “Several schools in Missouri are struggling. But we’ve been able to buck the trend. We have such an incredible product for kids.”

Central’s main campus has grown by more than six percent in the last five years, while most independent colleges in Missouri have lost enrollment. Statewide, independent colleges have lost 14.2 percent over the last five years, and public colleges have lost 14.5 percent.

Parisi said Central had 429 new students this fall and 1,350 new students over the three-year period.

“That’s a big deal in this market,” he said. “Especially when our competition has suffered 10 and 20 percent drops over a period of time. You can point to a lot of factors, but most importantly our alumni are getting jobs and our campus is a safe place for families.”

The signs are already pointing to a solid 2023 for Central, Parisi said. Central’s applications for next fall are trending 31 percent higher.

And if that’s not enough, President Roger Drake and the board of trustees have invested heavily in current faculty and staff, announcing Central’s largest pay increases in school history – at least four percent for all employees, and increases higher than that for some.

In athletics, every single Eagle sports team appeared in the postseason in 2022. And there is heavy investment occurring in baseball, softball, and Esports. A multimillion-dollar installation of turf is nearing completion at Estes Field and Cox Field, and Estes Field will host Fayette High School games, as well. The new turf is expected to all but eliminate rainouts.

On the Fayette Square, Central has transformed the old Dollar General site and is opening one of the country’s most spacious collegiate Esports facilities.

The Square is also where Central’s administration has invested heavily. Central has a bold plan to construct a three-story building that will feature retail spaces on the ground level and student housing on the second and third floor. Construction on the $8 million project is expected to begin in October, Drake said.

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