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November marks the two-year anniversary of the height of protests that took place on the University of Missouri’s campus. Protests over multiple racial issues culminated with a boycott by football players, a six-day hunger strike and, on Nov. 9, the resignations of the university system president and the MU chancellor.
The University of Missouri has since experienced a noticeable dip in enrollment. Gov. Eric Greitens even went as far as to say in a Facebook Live video on Aug. 23, 2017, "I believe that this is the biggest drop in enrollment of any major university in the country."
Big decline, yes. But is it the worst drop in enrollment in the country?
In his video, Greitens goes on to state that freshman enrollment has dipped by 33 percent since protests in 2015 brought national media attention to the SEC school.
The governor’s office didn’t respond to our request for clarifications. Because Greitens referred to major universities, we decided to take a look at four-year public universities containing 20,000 or more students. We chose these universities because the Department of Education lists MU in this group. According to the Department of Education data, MU was not the only university to experience a drop in enrollment.
Departmental data show that MU's total enrollment declined from 35,424 in 2015 to 33,239 in 2016, or 6.17 percent. That puts the university in fourth place for enrollment decline. The top three:
--Florida State University at Jacksonville, which is predominantly a two-year college, came in third with a 7.97 percent decrease in enrollment.
--The University of Akron main campus fell 8.66 percent.
--The largest decline was at Miami-Dade College, also predominantly a two-year college, which saw enrollment drop 11.43 percent.
Greitens spoke before this year’s official enrollment figures were out, but the decline has continued. The Department of Education hasn’t finished gathering numbers for 2017 enrollment. On Sep. 20, MU announced an enrollment of 30,870, according to the MU News Bureau. That’s a drop of 12.9 percent from 2015.
Freshmen enrollment is down even more. Since the protests on campus, MU experienced a 36.5 percent drop in freshman enrollment, more than the 33 percent decline Greitens mentions.
According to the Department of Education, first-year student numbers for 2016-2017 are still not yet available for all universities, so there is no way to tell if MU experienced the largest drop in freshman enrollment.
Greitens said, "I believe that this is the biggest drop in enrollment of any major university in the country."
MU has undoubtedly experienced a drop in overall enrollment since protests that took place two years ago. However, MU’s overall enrollment decline did not top other universities like Miami-Dade College or the four-year University of Akron.
As far as freshman enrollment, numbers for 2016-17 have not yet been made available, so there is no way to tell if MU experienced the biggest drop in enrollment.
The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate this claim Mostly False.
Facebook Live Video, https://www.facebook.com/EricGreitens/, Aug. 23, 2017
MU News Bureau, Official figures confirm Mizzou's retention rate second highest in history, Sept. 20, 2017
The Department of Education,4-year Public Degree-granting institutions in the IPEDS Universe in 2014-16, Sept. 27, 2017
MU Enrollment Summary 2015-2016,https://musis2.missouri.edu/enrollment_sum_report/fall-2016/Fall-2016-Enrollment-Summary-combined.pdf, Oct. 19, 2017
MU Enrollment Summary 2016-2017,https://musis2.missouri.edu/enrollment_sum_report/fall-2017/Fall-2017-Enrollment-Summary-combined.pdf, Oct. 19, 2017
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