UM enrollment could increase by 500

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

University of Montevallo President Dr. John Stewart speaks during a July 27 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce Meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Daniel Holmes)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

University of Montevallo President Dr. John Stewart said he is looking to expand the school’s enrollment over the next five years, and said he hopes to move UM to the top of national educational institution lists during a July 27 luncheon in Pelham.

During the lunch, which was sponsored by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and held at the Pelham Civic Complex, Stewart outlined his plans to make UM more well-known across the country.

“We will be much more aggressive in the way we market the University of Montevallo, and we will be much more aggressive in our recruiting and retention,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he is proud UM is a state-funded school, but said school officials are going to have to use some private sector business practices to ensure the school remains viable in the face of state budget cuts.

“As you know, state universities have struggled with funding recently,” Stewart said. “Despite the troubles, I am glad Montevallo is a state school. Our bread and water is funding we get from the state.

“But to be successful, Montevallo will have to operate more like a private industry,” he added. “If we want to get that bread and honey, we are going to have to work for it.”

Stewart said one of his biggest goals is to increase UM’s student enrollment from 3,000 to 3,500 over the next five years.

He said he would like to see many of those new students living on campus, and said the increase could help compensate for state budget shortfalls.

“That will make us a more viable and robust campus,” Stewart added, noting 500 more students could bring between $6 million and $7 million more revenues to the school.

“We are going to recruit a lot of students, but we are not going to be a big school,” Stewart said. “As more of the bigger schools in the state continue to grow, I think we will be more sought after for being a small school.”

Stewart also said he would like to see Montevallo move up the U.S. News and World Report listing of the best schools in the Southeast.

“I want to see us move from 40th in the Southeast to the top 10. In five years, I want to see us in the top 10 or top 20,” he said.

Since he took over as president of the university about a year ago, Stewart has received several compliments on the school’s graduates, he said.

Shortly after he arrived in Montevallo, he flew to Dallas with the owner of a large copier company to eat dinner.

“He said ‘I love to hire your kids. They come out ready to work,’” Stewart said of the man. “He said ‘I don’t have to teach them how to write business letters or think on their feet. They are just ready to work.’”