BUTTE – Montana Tech is trying to plug a hole in declining student enrollment.
“The retention issue is huge inside of any university right now because it’s so expensive to recruit student into your school,” said Joe McClafferty, president of the Montana Tech Foundation.
This is how the Butte school hopes to use its Student Success Center that’s currently being built. Montana Tech Alumnus Pat O’Brien recently donated more than $500,000 to the $24 million project. University officials praised the support of alumni to this project.
“Just somebody who grows up from very humble, ordinary beginnings, they go on to do extraordinary things and they end up having the ability some point in their lives to give back over $1 million to the institution they graduated from,” said McClafferty.
The new facility will provide long-term housing for students, a one-stop location for all the student service needs, and community areas for socializing. The goal is to try to keep 20 percent of the student body living on campus during the semesters.
“We want to get this campus shining so much that if you come up here at 7 o’clock at night, there’s a buzz, there’s something always going on,” he said.
One way the university is trying to tackle its dropping enrollment is student retention, that is they’re trying to find ways to keep students from dropping out early.
“You know you look at every year we’re graduating 300 students, so even a dummy like me can figure out you know 500 minus 400 we’re going back 100 students every year, so that building is key in two critical areas,” McClafferty said.
“One, there recruitment of the students so they can see that this is where you’re going to live for the next four to five years and then the retention of the student so the student sees there’s services inside of that building that’s going to help them get through the tough times that we all experience getting through college.”
The school has already made staffing and program cuts to deal with declining enrollment.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News