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PHCC sees sharp decline in summer enrollment
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Enrollment at Patrick Henry Community College dropped significantly this summer.
A total of 1,005 students were enrolled during the summer session. That was down 18.8 percent from the 1,238 students enrolled in summer 2012, statistics presented to the college’s board on Monday showed.
Dean of Student Services Jeff Porter said other higher education institutions statewide also saw declines in summer enrollment.
However, PHCC officials mentioned some issues they think affected summer enrollment locally.
The state has redesigned “development education” — remedial — programs and students are not needing to take as many such courses to prepare them for college-level learning, Porter said.
Area school systems have boosted their curriculums, so “students are coming to us better prepared” for college, said Greg Hodges, dean of developmental education and transitional programs.
Also, the area is seeing “slightly better economic conditions,” and some people have found jobs without having to undergo training, Porter said.
He mentioned, for example, that the number of Trade Act students dropped nearly 31 percent, from 159 last summer to 110 this summer. Such students get federal aid to be retrained when they lose jobs that move overseas or are eliminated due to foreign competition among industries.
Ultimately, fewer Trade Act students is “a really good thing” for the area because it means “companies are not closing down as often,” Porter said.
Among students enrolled at PHCC this summer, 627 were women and 378 were men, and 924 were part-time while 81 were full-time, figures showed.
Students are considered full time if they take 12 or more credit hours of courses during an academic term.
Summer enrollment this year was about 65 percent less than the 2,851 students who were at PHCC during the spring semester, figures revealed. However, many students choose to take summer off, and the winter and spring semesters usually have higher enrollments than summer sessions.
The fall semester started last week. PHCC President Angeline Godwin noted that as crowds have returned to campus, it has become harder to find places to park. On Monday, vehicles were parked in grassy areas beside parking lots as well as in actual parking spaces.
Indicating that she hopes enrollment goes up in the future, Godwin quipped that she hopes it is even harder to find vacant parking spaces on campus at this time next year.
Also Monday, the PHCC board approved a restructuring of local funds.
Virginia Community College System policy is for expenses for acquiring land, site preparation beyond five feet from a building and construction of outdoor lighting, sidewalks, parking lots, and athletic and recreational facilities to be paid without using state funds, according to a report.
College officials are foreseeing a need for “significant site improvements” that cannot be paid for with state funds, the report shows. Those upgrades were not discussed during Monday’s meeting.
PHCC has been paying public relations/marketing, graduation and employee professional development expenses with local funds, but those can be paid with state funds, according to Vice President of Financial and Administrative Services Jack Hanbury.
The board dissolved those accounts and combined them with the building operations, maintenance and improvements account. A total of $31,200 in the dissolved accounts was placed in a new contingency reserve account.
Two separate “plant” and “capital” funds were combined into a “Plant & Capital Fund.” It will have accounts for site development/maintenance and contingency, the report shows.
A total of $35,854 affected by the combination was placed in the site development/maintenance account.
Each of the moves is intended to free up local dollars for needs that can be paid for only with local dollars, officials emphasized.
The board also:
• Learned that a new Innovation Engineering Program is to start during the spring semester. It is designed to teach students — no matter what type of degrees or careers they are pursuing — how to to create and communicate ideas and determine if those ideas will work, said Rhonda Hodges, dean of workforce development and continuing education.
She said PHCC will be the only community college to have the program, which the University of Maine helped develop.
• Nominated Chairman Eddie White of Martinsville for the 2013 Chairman’s Award for College Board Member Exemplary Service.
The award is given by the Virginia Community College System’s chancellor’s office. Godwin said that locally, the award traditionally has been presented to the board chairman.