Enrollment soars at USM Gulf Park Campus


The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach is setting records. The university saw a large increase in student enrollment this fall. News 25’s Caroline Eaker talked with university officials about the increase in students wanting to be Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus are soaring to new heights when it comes to enrollment. University leaders say ten percent growth is unusual for any college campus during any given year. Gulf Park Campus Vice Provost Casey Maugh Funderburk said, “We are up 9.2 which puts us just roughly under 3,500 students at the Gulf Park campus. Last year we had 9.1 percent increase at the Gulf Park campus. We are really happy to celebrate two years of great growth.”
In the fall of 2017, 22 percent more first time freshmen enrolled in the university than in 2016. Senior Kaitlin Dorris said, “I decided to come here mostly because the tuition cost is the lowest in the state for the university. I decided I wanted to stay close to home. I have had the opportunity to still be able to hold down a full time job while attending college.”
Now a senior, Kaitlin Dorris points to the perks of attending university campus with a small close knit sense of community as the reason for keeping her here. “You really get to know people on a personal level and it’s more like a small liberal arts college than a big university and that, for students who might not care to be on a campus with 50,000 students, is really nice.”
University leaders credit the campus’ combination of specialty programs and new facilities for drawing in an influx of new students. “We have added more services to the campus. We have more tutoring services for students. We have a health facility where students can work out for free. We have a health clinic now on campus where students can get the medical attention they need. We have a beautiful campus of course, but in addition to that the really wrap around services that treat students in sort of a holistic way. We have that now at Gulf Park that we have never been able to have before.”