Small Colleges Lead in Gains in Enrollment but Other Small Campuses Show Year's Biggest Losses

Article excerpt

Last week was Alton Lacey's first on his new job, and already he was talking about his "problems." Over coffee in the cafeteria, he conceded that other college presidents might envy them.

The college is Missouri Baptist in Creve Coeur. The problems can be summed up in a word: growth.

In a year when enrollment at most Missouri and Illinois colleges and universities surveyed did not vary much from last year's, Missouri Baptist's shot up strongly, as did McKendree College's, in Lebanon.

Missouri Baptist's latest spurt caps a string that doubled the enrollment over the previous seven years.

Lacey and other officials think the college gains from being the only evangelical Christian college in the St. Louis area.

The college segregates the genders into separate dorm wings, bars dancing on campus and requires attendance at twice-weekly chapel.

So much the better for Philip Evans of St. Louis, a freshman there. "You don't have to worry about outside influences too much," he said. "There's hardly any."

Evans identifies himself as a nondenominational Christian, which puts him among what officials say is the college's non-Baptist majority.

That also includes Tina Bendel, a freshman from St. Louis.

A Catholic, she says she chose the college for its Christian environment, music education major and small size.

Students at both Missouri Baptist and McKendree talk up the intimacy of their small liberal arts colleges. "You learn a little bit more because the teachers care a little bit more," said Chris Sandrowski of Collinsville, a sophomore transfer student at McKendree.

While McKendree and Missouri Baptist were leading the field in enrollment gains, other small campuses surveyed showed the year's largest enrollment losses:

Fontbonne College, in Clayton. Gary Zack, vice president of enrollment management and student development, said the phase-out of a foreign language education program for employees of McDonnell Douglas Corp. …


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