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Baptist college enrollment up for 15th consecutive year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Enrollment at the 50 colleges and universities which maintain paid membership in the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools (ASBCS), showed an overall increase for the fall semester for the 15th consecutive year, according to figures released to the ASBCS.

Statistics for the 1996 fall semester show 110,895 students attended the 50 Southern Baptist colleges and universities, a 2 percent increase over the 1995 total of 108,662. The 2,233 student increase is up from a less-than-1 percent increase from 1995 to 1996.

The enrollment figures include both full- and part-time students in college credit courses but do not include students enrolled in non-credit courses. Enrollment statistics were released to the ASBCS by each school.

A compilation of the figures shows that 28 of the 50 colleges and universities had an increase in enrollment from fall 1995 to fall 1996. California Baptist College, Riverside, Calif., showed the largest percentage increase from fall 1995 to fall 1996 with 461 additional students, for a 38 percent increase. Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas, tied with California Baptist for the largest numerical increase with 461 additional students, a 13 percent increase for Wayland.

Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, Ky., received the second-highest percentage increase of 17 percent with 21 new students and Shorter College, Rome, Ga., had the third-highest percentage increase with 15 percent and 203 new students.

Missouri Baptist College, St. Louis, had the second-highest numerical increase with 240 additional students, for an 11 percent increase. Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, N.C., had the third- highest numerical increase with 237, a 9 percent increase, followed by Mercer University, Macon, Ga., with 231 new students, for a 3 percent increase.

“The fact that the 50 member institutions of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools have an overall uninterrupted growth in students for the past one and a half decades demonstrates the continued confidence that Southern Baptists have in their colleges and universities,” said Stephen P. Carleton, ASBCS executive director.

“The faculty members and administrators of these institutions have worked diligently to strengthen the academic programs, to reach non-traditional students and to provide innovative programs and opportunities for students that often stretch around the globe while applying their Christian faith to their particular academic disciplines. Fifteen years of continuous growth is a powerful testimony to the hard work of professors, administrators, staff, trustees and students,” Carleton said.

“The mission purpose of these institutions is to equally emphasize personal faith and professional competency, and their success in this task is evident,” he said.

Baylor University, Waco, Texas, remains the largest Southern Baptist-related university in the nation with 12,391 students, followed by Mercer University, with 6,959 students, and Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C., with 5,702 students.

Some universities have reached or surpassed their established enrollment and are limiting the number of incoming students through admissions ceilings and/or higher standards.

Following are the 1996 fall enrollment figures and the percentage of increase or decrease from fall 1995 to fall 1996 (rounded to the nearest percent) at the 50 Southern Baptist-related colleges and universities by state.

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  • Tim Fields