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Changing demographics shown in Gordon enrollment trends

In his remarks to the Gordon State College Foundation at its meeting August 22, college president Dr. Max Burns presented some interesting data regarding enrollment trends. The statistics showed the impact of academic standards that were loosened in 2009 and tightened up for 2011 and 2012. Fall enrollment growth at Gordon was moderate on campus from 2005-08, going from 3500 to 3855. With drastically reduced enrollment standards in fall 2009, enrollment soared to 4545. It ballooned to 5009 the following fall. Enrollment standards were tightened under interim president Shelly Nickel in 2011 and enrollment fell to 4664. Last week, enrollment was at 4195 with one drop day left. The loosened standards allowed students who needed remediation in three areas to enroll. Now Gordon allows remediation in only two areas and has two faculty members who track and mentor each incoming freshman. Very few of those requiring remediation in three areas finish their college careers. Students needing learning support numbered 906-920 from 2005-08 then swelled to 1400 (31%) in 2009 and 1585 (32%) in 2010. Tightened standards dropped that number to 1031 in 2011 and a projected 835 (20%) this fall. The looser standards also greatly increased the percentage of new students enrolled. Dr. Burns said he would like to keep first time student enrollment at 30%. This provides more stability,’ Burns said. In 2010, over 41% were new students. Of 2269 freshmen entering Gordon in 2010, 1155 required learning support services and 1428 received Pell grants. Those numbers are projected at 825 and 500, respectively, this fall. Average SAT scores of enrollees have also jumped. Math scores went from 416 in 2009 to 440 this fall. Critical reading, notched at 426 in 2009, is pegged at 460 this fall. The composite SAT has gone from 842 to 900 over the same time period. Many of the enrollment standards were loosened after Gordon was designated an access institution by the Board of Regents. Dr. Burns noted the college has not lost sight of its access mission. At its meeting, the foundation updated its bylaws to reflect the name change to Gordon State College. It also heard reports from Dr. Faith Garrett, dean of the school of nursing, and Chris Childress, president of the student government association. The meeting was also the first for the foundation’s new slate of officers which includes Walter Geiger, chairman; Calvin S. Hopkins III, vice chairman; and William E. Bazemore Sr., treasurer. Dr. Burns serves as secretary and James R. Matthews is the at-large appointee to the executive committee. The foundation oversees an invested corpus for scholarships and development in excess of $7 million. Other members are Bruce Akins, Peter Banks, Andy Bush, George Butler, Dan Cathy, Kenny Coggins, Jerry Colwell, Alan Connell, Jim Edwards, John Edwards, Bill Fears, Lucinda Gamble, Jim Granum, George Hightower Jr., Curtis Jenkins, Derrick R. Lewis, Pete Malone, Ed Mitchell, Don Neuner, Dr. Mike Oxford, John Quinn, Lewis Robinson, Eddie Rogers, Sonny Story, Luke Weaver, Derek Williams and Rep. John Yates. Emeritus members are Capt. Clifford Barnes, Dallis Copleand, Bill Edwards, Joe Edwards, Rosemary Evans, Ronal Greer, Sid Jennette, Lon Knowles, Quimby Melton Jr., Tom Richardson, Mary Jean Simmons, Larry Smith and Henry Walker. Childress is an ex-officio member as are alumni association chairman Jim Graham and faculty senate chairman Tony Pearson.

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