ITTA BENA — Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) has faced some obstacles lately — lower enrollment, budget cuts and talk about mergers, for example — but one administrator says he has plans for turning things around.
“We will be facing challenges based on the information presented about the possibility of merger and budget cuts, but we are working on a whole new philosophy of recruiting new students,” said Johnny D. Jones, vice president for student affairs, enrollment management and diversity.
Jones, who arrived at Valley in June 2009, said the institution will expand its recruitment area.
“This year we are reaching outside the Delta and talking about Valley to high schools across the state,” Jones said. “We have always concentrated on the Delta, but the population of the Delta is shrinking. We want to carry Mississippi Valley out to the rest of the state.”
A part of the strategy is the “Valley Renaissance Tour,” a traveling information session with parents and students across Mississippi. Tours of cities across the state have already begun, and Jones said the university will do another tour in the fall.
The tour will be in Vicksburg on Tuesday; in Prentiss on Feb. 26; Holly Springs, March 4; Moss Point, March 18; and Columbus, March 29.
“We are making sure we go out and speak to the communities about Valley,” Jones said. “We are talking to local merchants — mom-and-pop shops, barber shops —and getting them to support our recruitment. Parents and students have the chance to ask us questions while we are there.”
Valley was one of only two Mississippi universities where enrollment decreased this year. Jones said that before he came to MVSU he was able to use similar programs to increase enrollment by 200 percent at Arkansas Baptist College.
The new philosophy of recruitment is part of Jones’ three-year plan for increasing enrollment.
It is designed to meet MVSU president Donna Oliver’s goal of 4,000 students by 2013. Enrollment this year was just over 2,800.