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VGCC Fall Enrollment Tops 4,000 For First Time In School’s History

For the first time in its 33-year history, Vance-Granville Community College has enrolled more than 4,000 students in curriculum programs for a semester.

In the Fall Semester currently under way, there are 4,230 students enrolled in programs that lead to associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. That number will fluctuate a small amount as students adjust their schedules, said President Robert A. Miller. “But we will still realize a 10 to 13-percent increase over last fall’s enrollment of 3,752,” he said.

“This is not something new,” President Miller emphasized. “This is a continuation of a consistent trend that has seen Vance-Granville’s enrollment increase every semester for several years.”

No single curriculum program was responsible for the big jump in students. “We have seen increases across the board,” Miller said. “There have been big increases in our College Transfer program, which has a growing reputation for quality built on the good instructors in the program.”

Almost every vocational program at Vance-Granville is filled this fall, and some student slots were added to meet the demand in several of these. “I’m really pleased about this because there are so many jobs available in these fields,” said Miller.

The Information Systems program continues to grow, Miller said. The college added a Network Administration and Support concentration in this field last year and Internet Technology this fall, and these have inspired new interest and are helping meet demands in this computer field, he said.

“All our Health Education programs are prospering, with waiting lists for most of them,” the president said. Vance-Granville offers Associate Degree Nursing, Practical Nursing, Radiography, Medical Assisting and Human Services Technology training.

This increase in students has resulted in bulging classes and, without a state budget to hire additional instructors, Vance-Granville has increased class sizes by adding new seats in the classrooms. Classes that usually close out at 32 students may now have 40, said Marsha Nelson, dean of curriculum. “We’ve pulled every student table we had out of storage to accommodate the demand,” she said.

“We added sections to many classes, day and night,” said Nelson. “We tried to beef up the basic classes that all students have to take the first semester.”

The college has also expanded its offerings of Saturday and evening classes, and these are seeing record enrollment. Nelson mentioned a Saturday psychology class at the Franklin County Campus that has 27 students and a basic English class at the South Campus in Granville County that is completely filled.

Vance-Granville has increased its offering of Distance Education classes, in which students take classes via computer at home or at some other off-campus location.

These are only short-term remedies, Miller said. “Despite all these adjustments, we still need more teachers, but we cannot hire them because of the uncertainty surrounding the state budget,” he added. As it is, Vance-Granville’s instructors have taken on additional classes without additional pay.

While layoffs have sent some people back to Vance-Granville for more training, President Miller pointed out that enrollment has increased steadily through good and bad economic times. “I attribute that to an excellent faculty and staff, to the reputation for quality the school has earned, and because of our response to the needs and desires of the communities we serve,” he said.

Facilities on Vance-Granville’s four campuses are stretched to the limit with the record number of students. Thanks to money from the Higher Education Facilities Bonds passed by state voters in 2000, some relief is on the way.

There is a three-story, 51,921 square-foot classroom building under construction on the main campus, which is scheduled for completion in September or October of next year. The college bookstore is being enlarged, and 140 additional parking spaces are planned for the main campus.

President Miller said the college hopes to begin construction in the summer of 2003 on a new classroom building at the Warren County Campus, and additions are still in the planning stages for the Franklin County and South campuses.

“They are all needed because we are full at all our campuses,” Miller said.