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FVCC enrollment down, endowment up

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Oct 07 2013 05:05:35 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 07 2013 05:49:06 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

In Kalispell, Flathead Valley Community College is hoping to use an increase in gifts and donations to help draw more students into the classroom. It comes after several years of declining enrollment.

When the economic recession hit our country, it hit many people and businesses hard, but not everyone.

"When the recession hit in 2008, we saw a big jump in our enrollment," said Director of Institutional Research and Planning Brad Eldredge.

Flathead Valley Community College saw a 33 percent increase in enrollment from 2009 to 2010. Since then, FVCC has seen enrollment drop 14 percent.

Eldredge says the drop can actually be beneficial.

"We were really stretched at the peak of the enrollment boom in terms of our staff and faculty who did a real heroic job to serve a whole bunch of students that we weren't necessarily planning on serving a few years before.  So in some terms it gets us to a level where we're better able to serve students," he said.

But that doesn't mean they don't want to attract more students, which is where endowment comes in.

Colleen Unterreiner is the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. She says the college is seeing a much larger amount of endowment gifts at $6.78 million, double what it was at $3.34 million just 4 years ago.

"It's really a long-term investment.  So sometimes you don't see it day to day, but you see it year to year or even decade to decade," said Unterreiner.

More endowments mean more opportunities for students at the college.  Whether that's new classes, new programs, new buildings or more scholarships, that means more students have the opportunity or chance to receive an education.

With the ability to offer a more for its students, they hope they can expand and start a new trend.