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November 15, 2011

Trine taking off: Enrollment at Logan campus nearly doubles

LOGANSPORT — In its first year in town, Trine University’s Logansport campus nearly doubled its enrollment, and officials say there’s still room for growth.

Forty-seven students are taking classes at the Logansport campus. When it first opened a year ago, that number was 25.

“This campus has exceeded people’s expectations,” said Tami McMahan, director of Trine’s Logansport Education Center.

The president of Trine University has taken notice, too.

In a letter to Mayor Mike Fincher in September, President Earl Brooks II said Logansport’s education center was Trine’s fastest-growing campus.

“Little did we know how successful this partnership would become in such a short period of time,” Brooks wrote to Fincher.

McMahan smiled when she heard the news.

“I’m really proud of that,” she said.

She’s not surprised, though.

“We have a community that just thirsts for education,” she said.

This semester, the school is offering 24 courses four nights a week.

One course is offered during the day. That’s a first for the campus and a sign of growth, McMahan said.

She said the business algebra class got so big that it had to be split into two sections.

It’s important that classes stay small no matter how much enrollment increases, she said. The ideal class size is six to 15 students.

“If you get more than 15 students, you lose that personal connection with each of them,” McMahan said.

There was growth in most of the seven bachelor’s degree programs offered at the school. The school this fall added a computer science major that McMahan said had been popular among students.

But the director said she’s most excited about the master of science degree in leadership. That also was added at the beginning of the semester.

Trine is the first local educational institution to offer a master’s degree program, McMahan said. Seven people are pursuing their master’s in leadership at the Logansport center.

“All of these students are working here in the community,” McMahan said. “We have teachers, medical employees and businessmen and women. They know if they get this done, they might be able to grow in their business.”

McMahan said the students were grateful to have the chance to work a full day and attend classes at night. They’re able to remain close to their spouses and kids while pursuing the degree, she said.

“It’s convenient for them,” she said.

McMahan sees the master’s program as Trine’s niche in Logansport. She said statistics show that few people in Logansport have a master’s degree.

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2005 to 2009, only 450 people in the city have attained anything higher than a bachelor’s degree. That’s 3.7 percent of the city’s work force, census data shows.

McMahan said there’s plenty of room for growth at Trine’s current facility.

Only three of its five classrooms are being used right now, she said. Once the classrooms are filled, the school will start adding day classes.

“We could have classes five or six days a week,” she said. “We’ll just keep growing, keep adding classes.”

McMahan said there is no enrollment cap right now. Some of Trine’s satellite campuses have nearly 200 students.

“I’d like to get to that point, too,” she said.

• Lindsey Ziliak is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or lindsey.ziliak@pharostribune.com.

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