By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
CANTON, Mo. -- Culver-Stockton College officials are renovating several buildings to create additional dorm rooms for a surge of new students who want to live on campus this fall.
Misty McBee, director of admission, said she is projecting an incoming class of more than 340 students -- the largest incoming class in more than a decade.
On top of that, the college's retention rate for freshman moving to their sophomore year at Culver-Stockton hit a 10-year-high of 94 percent this year.
As a result, the college's total enrollment is expected to come in at just under 1,000 students this fall, with more than 93 percent of those students wanting to live on campus, McBee said.
That means more dormitory spaces are going to be needed.
College officials hope to meet part of the demand by creating some extra dorm rooms in the lower level of Johnson Residence Hall, where the Office of Student Life has been located for many years. The Student Life offices are being relocated to the Gladys Crown Student Center.
The new rooms will be able to accommodate about 18 students, McBee said.
In addition, several under-used spaces in two other residence halls are being transformed into extra dorm rooms.
All of these residential spaces are expected to be ready by this fall.
"We somewhat underestimated how many of our students would be living on campus," McBee said.
"Normally, it's between 85 to 90 percent, but we're looking at probably 93 percent of our incoming class being residential. So we're just trying to make more room for them," she said.
"Our residential percentages are well above the national average, and a lot of it has to do with our rural location and setting," she added. "A lot of people see the excitement of the on-campus environment and want to be part of that as opposed to living off campus and maybe being a little disconnected."
McBee said the growing number of students seeking admission to Culver-Stockton can be attributed to several factors.
For example, she noted that the college's athletic teams have been "increasingly competitive" in recent years. In addition, many enhancements to campus facilities were brought about by the college's fund-raising campaigns. Students also are attracted by generous financial aid packages awarded by the college.
"There are a lot of positive things going on," McBee said.
"I think this is a really good finishing touch to President Richard Valentine's five years of presidency at Culver. I know he's very excited and very proud of all the work that we as a college community have done to make this happen. It's also looking good for our new president, Kelly Thompson, who starts July 1. She's going to have some good challenges on her hands."