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Murray State seeing steady growth in Paducah

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

Murray State University's new Paducah facility has helped increase student enrollment over the past year.

MSU-Paducah Regional Campus opened its new Crisp Center on Sunset Avenue near Interstate 24 in January after moving from the former Pepsi plant on Paducah's Southside. The 43,000 square foot building with new technology and 19 classrooms attracted 30 percent more students in 2014 than one year ago at the former campus.

A total of 1,747 students enrolled in Paducah classes during the 2013-14 fall and spring semesters.

Dan Lavit, assistant dean at the Paducah campus, said it's too early to forecast this fall's enrollment. 

"We're hoping they'll be up. We're certainly out recruiting, and a lot of people are coming in to see us," he said.

Lavit said now that students are becoming more aware of the campus' location, the school is seeing more walk-in visits and admissions.

MSU-Paducah has also been taking on some students whose academic pursuits were cut short due to Mid-Continent University's closure. In April, MSU-Paducah hosted an open house, and 68 students applied for admission, including some displaced MCU students.

"I think (MCU) students like the format. A lot of our courses are at night; they're geared a lot of times for the non-traditional student ... it appeals to some of the MCU students and non-traditional students in general," he said.

While MSU-Paducah offerings aren't designed just for non-traditional students, Lavit said that has been a major draw to the campus.

"If you look at our parking lots, they're more full at night," he said.

To help boost enrollment in the coming year, the Paducah campus will continue adding courses. There were 18 more courses offered in spring 2014 than the previous spring.

The new technology at the center has been a contributing factor to increased enrollment, Lavin said. The new campus includes five interactive television classrooms, where "iTV" courses can be taught. Faculty can teach a course with students across several of MSU's regional campuses from one location.

The new Paducah campus sits less than a half-mile from West Kentucky Community & Technical College, a partner of MSU-Paducah in helping students fulfill degree requirements. Lavit said the collaboration between the schools has been another factor in student population growth.

"It's growing definitely," he said. "We love our partnership with WKCTC ... it just makes a great learning environment for people in Paducah and McCracken County."

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