Campus growth affected by missionary age change
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Charles Andersen, University Resources vice president, said various BYU-Idaho campus projects are on hold because of the recent missionary age change announcement, which has also affected enrollment.
Some of the projects on hold include the building of the agriculture science project, library remodel and building additional student housing on campus.
“We will be down a number of students so it’s really not wise to build student housing,” Andersen said. “Additionally, the private sector is meeting the needs with the new developments that are underway.”
Funding for new projects is approved and approved and appropriated in Salt Lake City. Andersen said until there is a complete understanding of needed resources for the missionary effort these projects will be on hold.
Andersen also said they need to have the funds available due to the influx of recent missionaries.
Andersen said the only project that is not on hold right now is the changes to the heat plant, which provides heating for the entire campus. The university is now switching from coal to natural gas to be more environmentally friendly and more efficient. Additionally, off-campus housing will not be affected by the missionary change.
Jon Phister, developer relations manager, said a lot of developers who are building off-campus housing have progressed in their development phases and they are still going to be building single student housing.
With the increase of missionary applications, Andersen said administrators anticipate the enrollment to be down for the next two and a half years.
“In 2012, the number of college-age youth in the church began to grow and [will continue] to grow for the next 8 to 10 years,” Andersen said. “Because of the number of young women and young men impacted by the initial missionary age announcement, we will have a bubble where the enrollment will drop but we will catch with our projected enrollment and continue to grow.”
Phister also said the university will be planning for an increase of students when the missionaries return in and around 2014 and 2015.
“We will be able to meet the needs for housing when the missionaries return, beginning Fall of 2014,” Phister said.
Winter semester statistics for 2013 were just released in a press release on the BYU-I campus. According to the press release, student enrollment right now is at 16,354 students, which is a four percent increase since last winter. However, the university expected around 700 more students than currently enrolled.
The current enrollment number includes students who take BYU-I courses and live in or near the Rexburg area. According to www.byui.edu, 96.2 percent of the students enrolled live in Rexburg and the remaining 3.8 percent live in areas from Idaho Falls to Ashton.