Western Kentucky University is aggressively recruiting students who attended a university in western Kentucky that laid off its staff this week.

Brian Meredith, chief enrollment officer, told the WKU Board of Regents on Friday that the collapse of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield has galvanized efforts locally to make sure about 2,000 students can continue their college educations. 

WKU officials have been working during the past 36 hours “to prepare to embrace those students,” WKU President Gary Ransdell said. “We need to be there for their faculty and students.”

Media reports show Mid-Continent plans to completely shut down in June.

Provost Gordon Emslie said many Mid-Continent students are nontraditional students who are more than 25 years old, and many take their classes online throughout Kentucky.

WKU’s distance learning online operation already has received inquiries from Mid-Continent students, and WKU has added a website page that is designed to ease transfer applications. 

“We’re marketing to the students and reaching out to the students,” Emslie said.

There also is work on an articulation agreement. A representative of WKU was in Mayfield on Friday, Emslie said. Asked by Regent John Ridley how many Mid-Continent students WKU could expect to enroll, Emslie said at least “several hundred,” with many of those enrolled in WKU’s online programs.

Meredith announced a reception Tuesday in Mayfield where Mid-Continent students can meet with WKU personnel to discuss options. Emslie said WKU comparing its course complement with what Mid-Continent offered. WKU also wants to award college credit for students who can show work experience.

Ransdell said the collapse of a university is unheard of in Kentucky.

Emslie said the laid-off faculty are volunteering time with students who are headed to graduation. “Those instructors may be our instructors through our online programs,” Emslie said.

“To capture these assets is extraordinary,” Ridley said.

Murray State University is about 20 miles from Mid-Continent and is also expected to enroll the displaced students. The students range from freshmen to graduate students.

“We want to make sure the students are afforded the right opportunity at the right place,” Emslie said. “Our online programs are much stronger” than Murray State’s, he said.

In another matter, Meredith said summer enrollment by freshmen is an indicator the fall enrollment may be up.

“We are in between the timetable when we seek to close the deal. We are reaching out to a lot of parents,” Meredith said. The university is trying to reverse two straight semesters of declining enrollment. 

Meredith said 1,752 scholarships have been offered to prospective students – double the amount the previous year. There are just under a dozen scheduled prospective student orientation sessions left in the enrollment cycle. Ransdell addressed 250 students this week at a session, one of the larger ones in recent years.

— Follow education reporter Chuck Mason on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnschools or visit bgdailynews.com.

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