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Rocky Mountain College continues to increase numbers while national averages drop
BILLINGS, July 20, 2015 – Although a recent report by the National Student Clearninghouse Research Center showed a decline of nearly 2 percent for the spring 2015 semester in overall postsecondary enrollments across the nation, Rocky Mountain College’s enrollment numbers have continued to increase.
RMC Vice President for Enrollment and Advancement Kelly Edwards reported that RMC is expected to meet new student and returning student goals. “Currently, we have 311 confirmed new students on a goal of 315 students for the fall semester,” said Edwards. “We are expecting to realize a 15 percent increase of new students this year from last year,” added Edwards. She explained that RMC is set to meet an overall enrollment projection of 955 undergraduates for the 2015-2016 academic school year, up from last year’s 939 undergraduates. Edwards added that this year’s total enrollment is on track to meet the 1,041 students, which is up from last year’s 1,031 student enrollment.
Not only have the enrollment numbers been on the rise, but the number of students returning to campus has also increased over the last two years. “Rocky Mountain College has increased its retention rate by another percentage from last year to 72 percent, which is a 2 percent increase from the year before,” said RMC President Bob Wilmouth.
“As a small private college rooted in the liberal arts, one of the keys to ensuring that our institution not only survives but thrives can be summed up in one word – ‘retention’,” said President Wilmouth. “While RMC excels at providing a top-notch, quality education to its students, the reality is that large private colleges, along with small and large public colleges, are providing good choices for students as well.”
According to U.S. News, up to 1 in 3 first-year students do not return for their sophomore year, for a variety of reasons, such as family problems, academic struggles, lack of money, or loneliness. “RMC is focused on taking care of our students. Our faculty provides a high quality education, and it is our job to ensure that our students have the best resources and campus facilities we can provide for them.”
President Wilmouth explained that in an effort to help continue to increase retention, RMC secured a grant from the Charles M. Bair Family Trust to upgrade the current library by adding a Learning Support Center. This project, which is already underway, consists of creating an open and welcoming new space to centralize RMC’s tutoring and learning support services. This will include creating a consolidated center that would facilitate academic success by making it the center of the academic cultural life.
“This learning center will work in partnership with faculty and staff across the RMC campus to support the academic achievement and development of all students,” said RMC’s Academic Vice President Dr. Stephen Germic. “The vision for the Learning Support Center is to transform the learning support services into a center that assists students in achieving academic success by providing opportunities for collaboration and intellectual growth in a beautiful, lively, and centralized environment.”
Dr. Germic explained, “The Learning Support Center will be designed to help meet the academic needs of students outside of class. This will include programming to meet academic, behavioral, and social needs of students by maximizing opportunities that enhance academic and social skills. The Learning Support Center will provide a full range of support services, educational strategies, and opportunities that will help students achieve academic, vocational, and personal goals. It will also provide multimedia resources and up-to-date technology to facilitate student learning.”
President Wilmouth added that it is RMC’s goal to increase graduation rates by improving student retention. “This learning center will play a crucial role in that initiative, by offering learning support programs and self-development activities designed to boost student academic performance and improve student retention.”
Rocky Mountain College is also on track to secure funding for a new science building, which has included raising between $8.5 and $9 million toward the $15 million project. President Wilmouth expects this goal will be reached by this November’s Black Tie Blue Jeans’ fundraiser.
“This renovation to add to our current science facility will not only aid the existing science programs, but will enhance every student’s educational experience as they grow and develop into well-rounded citizens,” added President Wilmouth. “This is more than just a ‘building’ – it’s about our students and creating a better future and environment for them, the broader community, and future generations.”
RMC’s accreditation was also recently reaffirmed by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, with commendations. “While it may be considered a given that a college is accredited, this is a critical component to RMC’s future. Accreditation by the NWCCU qualifies RMC and its enrolled students for access to federal funds and financial aid. With 99 percent of our students relying on financial assistance, it is important for RMC to continue to meet the standards of accreditation to ensure our students receive the financial help they need to obtain that degree.”
These are just a few examples of the numerous initiatives that are underway at RMC this year. President Wilmouth also noted that RMC surpassed its annual fund goal by $250,000, reaching $1,000,000 – which is the first time RMC has reached this goal in over a decade. Other initiatives include renovations to the cafeteria, which will be completed in time for the fall semester.
“The accomplishments Rocky Mountain College is realizing right now are due to the tremendous efforts by the staff, faculty, and trustees of this great institution,” said President Wilmouth. “The operations of the College have never been better. The value of the RMC experience for students has never been higher.”