Jennifer Frazier, director of Murray State-Paducah Regional Campus, voiced excitement Wednesday for its increased course enrollment, as she shared campus information and updates with local Rotarians.
As of Aug. 25, Frazier reported the Paducah campus’ course enrollment is 1,682. It marks a 55% increase from that time last year, according to Frazier, who said the figures aren’t final yet, so a few more enrollments are possible.
“We are very, very excited about it,” she told The Sun.
Frazier acknowledged that COVID-19 plays a role, but also noted that it’s “worked the phones” hard. She explained it made phone calls to potential students it knew were graduating from West Kentucky Community and Technical College, and also to people who made inquiries over the past year, but didn’t follow through and apply.
“We pulled out ‘stopout’ lists, so anyone that had 90 credit hours, but did not finish, we went back and called them to see if we could do something to help them finish their degree,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dan Lavit, who’s executive director for Murray State University’s Center for Adult and Regional Education, said course enrollment is not a head count, noting that many students are part-time.
“That’s the highest we’ve been in at least five years — part of that due to the pandemic, and we’re seeing students desiring to learn closer to home,” he said.
“And so, a lot of students are learning in their communities and we’re glad that we have the campus there for students to come home to. A lot of students are learning in Paducah from their homes and not necessarily coming into the building.”
Frazier and Lavit both addressed Rotarians for this week’s Rotary Club of Paducah meeting, in a virtual presentation titled, “We are nontraditional. We are Paducah. We are Racers.” They covered information on programs, the regional campus’ history and its work, before taking questions and comments.
“I love to tell my story, in that I completed my associate degree, my baccalaureate degree and my master’s degree all while being a mother of two children, married and working full-time,” Frazier said.
“And so, when I say I completely understand nontraditional students, I do wholeheartedly, and I know the challenges that they face and I am excited that I get to be in this position, where I could help them.”
During the presentation, she discussed different degree programs offered through the Paducah campus, including education, social work, and logistics and supply chain management. It offers 11 bachelor’s degree and four master’s degree programs, according to Frazier.
“One of the unique opportunities here at this campus is our videoconferencing classrooms,” she said.
“That is a technology that allows students to be here in Paducah, but connect with their faculty and peers all over our regional campuses. We have five in total, and so, students can be at Paducah, Henderson, Madisonville, Hopkinsville and Fort Campbell and still connect with each other.”
She also noted that its most recent master’s degree program — occupational therapy — received five-year accreditation within the past year.
“We are in a third cohort now, and that has been a great experience for those students that came in,” Frazier said.
“They came in trusting us that we were going to work our tails off to get that accreditation and, thankfully, I can say in December we did receive that five-year accreditation for that program, so we are appreciative of those students that invested their time here with us. They came from all over the country.”
Meanwhile, Lavit took time to discuss its integrated studies degree program that’s geared toward helping students — who have earned at least 60 credit hours — finish their degrees, and a Senior Scholars program for Kentucky residents age 65 and older.
“At age 65, you can attend classes for free at Murray State University and at all state institutions,” he said. “I want to mention that we just had our first graduate take advantage of this at our Paducah campus this past May.”
The student had started school in the 1970s, but later left. She completed her degree — tuition free — at age 69, according to Lavit.
“Kind of the theme of what we’ve been talking about today is lifelong learning is such an important thing,” he said. “And we hope that Murray State-Paducah campus can be a part of many stories like this one.”