Missouri State University is on track to break an enrollment record for the seventh year in a row, an influx driven largely by incoming freshmen.
The state’s second-largest university has increased its number of graduates, added new undergraduate and graduate programs, renovated and expanded campus buildings and is exploring the possibility of adding a new residence hall.
Meanwhile, the state’s largest university, the University of Missouri-Columbia has logged a headline-grabbing drop in enrollment — especially among recent high school graduates — in the two years since racially charged protests erupted on the main campus. Freshmen enrollment plummeted by one-third since fall 2015, hundreds of jobs have been cut, and a handful of residence halls have closed temporarily.
The enrollment decline at MU and the increase at MSU begs the question: Are the two connected?
MSU officials said they cannot rule out that part of the bump in the past two years may have come from students, initially focused on MU, exploring other options. But, they are quick to point out MSU enrollment has grown steadily for two decades.
MSU officials said in talking with peer institutions in Missouri, there is no indication that a drop in students at MU — which also pulls in students from outside the state — has boosted enrollment at any particular institution.
Read more: Springfield News-Leader