MCC cautiously optimistic that enrollment is on the upswing


With summer classes underway and enrollment up from last year, administrators at Miles Community College are feeling cautiously optimistic the school is back on an enrollment upswing.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting of the MCC Board of Trustees, Vice President of Student Success and Institutional Research Jessie Dufner and MCC President Stacy Klippenstein updated the board on summer enrollment numbers, as well as outlining new strategies to keep the trend moving forward.

“We are trying to be strategic and a little more forward-thinking in how we want to develop the enrollment plan,” Klippenstein said. “We are putting in initiatives now that will help us with fall enrollment, as well as the semesters to follow. We are really thinking ahead and trying to develop those strategies and plans that will help us get to a point where we are hitting our enrollment targets, but also trying to better serve southeastern Montana.”

Summer enrollment is projected to be up 15 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) students from last year, growth Dufner attributes to more online courses offered, as well as the popularity of the CDL classes. The actual numbers won’t be available until about the end of July.

“We really have robust online offerings this summer,” she said. “We have a few different core classes available online that we haven’t in the past, and those are drawing strong enrollment. We have a lot of students at other colleges taking our science classes who will then transfer those credits back to their schools. We’ve also really capitalized on the CDL short courses this summer; those have been very popular.”

Klippenstein said procuring a pair of grants in the last year opened the door to expanding the Heavy Equipment and CDL programs, both of which are showing positive enrollment numbers.

“For us to be strategic in those types of academic program development really helps,” he explained. “Also, targeting our enrollment differently than in the past, we need to get more prospective students in the pipeline. Communicating with them on a more regular basis then helps us to get more applications coming in. Even if we get 20 more new students this coming year, that’s a big number for MCC.”

Current student retention is also being addressed, with strategies being developed in the hopes of helping students complete their MCC career.

“Because it’s so much easier to retain a student than recruit a new student, it becomes vital to do everything we can to keep those students here,” Dufner said. “That’s our focus going into fall semester.”

Klippenstein said utilizing early-alert systems has been beneficial in the past with identifying the students most in need of help. That said, finding out more about incoming students before the first day of classes would help even more.

“We need to really take a look at our students prior to when they even get here,” he said. “Right after they complete our orientation programs, we need to ask ‘What do we know about these students? How can we predict whether that student will struggle with us?’ Then we utilize an intervention strategy even earlier. We have a lot of that kind of development to do to help students stay here.”

Also on Monday’s agenda was Klippenstein’s monthly President’s Report. In it, an update was given on last month’s Board of Regents meeting in Havre.

“Agenda items at that meeting included an overview of the community college funding model, developmental education, dual enrollment and Big Sky Pathways, tuition and fees and academic program approvals,” Klippenstein said in his report. “The community college funding model discussion was well received and Vice President for Athletic Affairs Ted Hanley participated in a panel to talk about dual enrollment activities.”

In Human Resources news, Karmalee Young has been hired as the new Bookstore Manager effective June 2, 2014. Ann Rutherford, Library Director, announced her retirement effective June 30, 2014. The position opened May 5, 2014 and closed May 19, 2014. First-round interviews were conducted on June 6 and campus visits for the finalists are being scheduled.  

Title IX Coordinator Kylene Phipps attended Investigator Training along with Jessie Dufner, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, June 12-13, 2014. Haley Anderson resigned as Admissions Representative effective June 25, 2014. This position opened June 6 and closed June 23. The search committee is scheduled to meet and review applicants.