Enrollment streak ends for Clayton State

By Greg Gelpi

The streak is broken for Clayton College & State University record enrollments.

Clayton State had strung together seven consecutive semesters of record-setting enrollments as it marched toward President Thomas Harden's goal of 7,000 students by 2007. As of Friday, this semester's enrollment was reported at 5,904 students.

Clayton State Associate Provost James Mackin said the number is a "little higher than last spring, a little lower than the fall" when the university had a record enrollment of 5,954 students.

Clayton State is becoming like many universities, showing a trend of higher enrollment figures in the fall as compared with the spring, Mackin said. A larger than usual fall graduation contributed to the lower spring enrollment.

Fall graduation left little room in the university's gymnasium during graduation ceremonies, Director of University Relations John Shiffert said.

Despite the slightly lower enrollment numbers, Mackin anticipates the university quickly lunging toward Harden's enrollment goals.

"We expect to be up to about 7,000 in the fall," he said. "This fall we really expect it to pick up by gangbusters. The numbers are out there. We just have to get out there and get them."

Through an "aggressive enrollment strategy," Mackin said the university will capitalize on "huge" growth in the Southern Crescent, while "beefing up" recruiting efforts outside the Southern Crescent.

Clayton State will stretch its recruiting efforts outside of Clayton County, targeting community colleges, transfer students and others, Mackin said.

With its high number of nontraditional students, he said the university is also considering ways to expand programs to meet the needs of those students who work during the day and can't fit traditional classes into their schedule. One possibility is "weekend college."

"We've kind of capped out at the evening," Mackin said. "In order to expand that population, and there's been an increased demand from nontraditional students, we have no where to expand but the weekend."

Clayton State junior Rolieria West, a native of New Orleans, recently transferred from Georgia State University, saying that there she was "basically a number."

Faculty at Clayton State make her feel more welcome and show more concern for students, West said.

Fellow Biology major BarShaina Lamar agreed, adding that some professors give out their home telephone numbers in efforts to increase access for students.

"Parking is crazy here," the sophomore from Decatur said. "That is the only bad problem. You have to get here way before class starts."

Clayton State, which has been recognized as having one of the most diverse campuses in the Southeastern United States, has attracted many international students as well.

Tanika Smit, a sophomore from South Africa, learned about the university through friends and enrolled at Clayton State for its music program and track and cross country teams.

The university's Spivey Hall has put Clayton State on the map internationally and helped establish partnerships with universities around the world.