UM grows, benefits all

For a long time, county residents have known that the University of Montevallo is a jewel here in the heart of the Birmingham metropolitan area. But that wasn’t always widely known beyond the bounds of Shelby County.

That’s quickly changing now.

The number of incoming freshmen at UM is expected to reach 580 this fall, an increase of more than 30 percent since 2010. Total enrollment is expected to break 2,600 students — which will bring more people and more dollars to Shelby County, yes, but will also help UM offset funding cuts and keep tuition costs as low as possible.

That’s important for UM to continue to attract exceptional students from all over the state, Southeast and from elsewhere.

UM and county officials are also working to bring university students to downtown Montevallo through the new Montevallo on Main building, which will open this Friday.

The building will house several classrooms, office spaces and lounge areas — perfect for students and employees to work, relax and enjoy the beauty of downtown Montevallo. The building is scheduled to hold 55 classes this fall, as well as offices for the department of behavioral and social sciences. Just down the street, a brand-new Barnes and Noble College bookstore is open, so students and faculty will spend plenty of their time downtown.

The merchants in downtown Montevallo will certainly enjoy having those students, staff and employees there to support their businesses. We expect to see Montevallo’s downtown district undergo a renaissance — in fact, that renaissance truly has already started.

It’s a thrill to see UM officials taking control of the university’s destiny and pushing for controlled, smart growth that will benefit the city of Montevallo and Shelby County as well.

It’s also been great to see county and city officials so willing to work with each other and work with UM administrators to make sure this project would happen. That sense of collaboration certainly isn’t evident everywhere, and we’re proud that it can be found in Shelby County.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.