Enrollment has declined at two of the three historically black colleges in the state's university system for the first time in 15 years, according to figures presented to the Board of Regents yesterday.
The biggest drop is at Bowie State University, which enrolled 76 fewer full-time freshmen than a year ago, a decline of 18.1 percent. That rises to almost 23 percent if part-time freshmen are included -- 506 students last year compared with 390 this year.
Bowie State's interim president, former regent Wendell Holloway, attributed part of the drop to rising standards at the school.
"We are putting a greater emphasis on math and science, and we have not seen a decline in students in those core areas," he said.
Holloway said he hoped that an expansion of programs offering support to students with marginal high school records would allow the school to enroll more students next year.
He also said the booming economy has an effect on enrollment.
He noted that 60 percent of the school's students are older than 25, often people going back to school to get a degree needed in the job market.
"These people are finding that they can get a job without a degree in this economy," Holloway said. "With something like a computer license, they can get a good job."
He said the same factor explains the sharp drop in students in Bowie State's graduate school, which lost 44 full-time and 170 part-time students, an overall 11.4 percent decrease. Transfers to the school's undergraduate programs kept the decline of the school's total student population at 5.1 percent.
The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore had an 11.4 percent drop in full-time freshmen and an overall decline of 6.4 percent, from 3,206 to 3,000 students.
The other historically black school in the University System of Maryland, Coppin State College, grew by 2.1 percent -- to a total of 3,844 students -- though its freshman class declined slightly.
The overall decline in enrollment at the system's historically black colleges was 3.2 percent.
Historically black Morgan State University is not part of the UM system.
"We're going to be spending some time figuring out just exactly what's going on," Donald P. Langenberg, the system's chancellor, said of the decline at the black schools during a regents meeting at Coppin State.
Overall, the 11 schools in the system grew by 1.6 percent to a record enrollment of 108,485.
Towson University enrolled 184 more freshmen than last year, an increase of 9.5 percent.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County had 150 more first-year students, a 12.3 percent increase.
The biggest increase was recorded by the University of Maryland, University College, the state's continuing education institution, which had an 11.6 percent rise in its part-time undergraduates, the bulk of its students, from 9,139 to 10,199.
"That's because of on-line enrollment," Gerald A. Heeger, UMUC president, said.
Heeger said UMUC had 12,553 enrollments for on-line courses this semester and projected that would mean a total of at least 35,000 registrations for courses by the end of this academic year.
"That compares with 21,000 last year, 9,000 the year before that and 2,500 the year before that," he said. "So you can see how it's growing."
Pub Date: 10/02/99