Springfield colleges welcome students back to campus
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Students are moving back to campus this week to get ready for the start of a new semester. After the pandemic impacted the last two school years, things are looking a bit more normal this year.
MSU, OTC, and Evangel have also lifted some of their COVID-19 protocols. No masks, no social distancing, and the return of significant campus events. MSU, Evangel, and Drury report an increase in students coming to campus.
“We’re really excited about this incoming class,” said Drury Vice President of Enrolment Management, Kevin Kropf. “This will be the largest freshman class in the history of Drury University. We knew all along it was going to be a big one, and it’s looking like it’s going to be an all-time record for freshmen, and almost 500 students total in the incoming class.”
“Our freshman class is good,” said Missouri State University President Clif Smart. “We were up on transfer students, our international students are coming back. Last year we set a record on graduate students, and we ought to hit that number again, maybe a little more. So in terms of both the numbers of students and the excitement of students and the kinds of students, it’s going to be a good year.”
Evangel reported seeing an increase in enrolment in all their colleges. OTC is seeing an increased interest in technical education.
The return to normalcy is just one exciting thing happening on college campuses. There are several new sports and buildings that students will benefit from.
“We have the new O’Reilly Breach Thompson Hall that we’ll be opening up later this fall,” said Kopf. “That’s been a source of pride for campus to we added six new sports that will kick off this fall. Men’s women’s lacrosse, women’s women’s rugby, ice hockey as well as stunt (cheerleading) that’s been a big part of this.”
“We’re really excited that we’re opening and have opened a brand new residence hall Heights Hall first time in several decades,” said Smart. “It is full, students are excited about that. John Goodman Amphitheater will wrap up, and we’ll host events in that and in the next month or so. (Got) A Top 10 ranked football team and a Top 20 ranked men’s soccer team, so sports should be really good. You know, just, I feel good about the year.”
OTC also opened the Robert Plaster Manufacturing Center on Monday and will offer an Esports program this year. Evangel is currently campaigning to build a new field house, renovate a residential hall, and put in a turf field for intramural sports. Evangel is also launching five new club sports for students to participate in.
Officials say students are excited to start the school year.
“I think everybody’s excited about this return to normalcy and doing things like your Panther Palooza out on our quad and our firework show and just everything feeling back to normal and how it was,” said Kopf. “The opportunity for more student engagement, a lot of students going to athletic events and other kinds of things, kind of enclosed spaces and the excitement around not only the academic side of it, but that co-curricular side is really we’re gonna have a high energy place this fall here at Drury university.”
“I think there’s some nervousness and anxiety of students thinking about starting college after that kind of experience,” said Smart. “I also know the longer they’re here and more they’re connected and the more they see they can do the work and make new friends and engage. I think we’re going to see the excitement continue to build.”
Classes start next week for all of Springfield’s colleges.
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