The Montreat Miracle

The Gospel Coalition | 1/24/2019 | Staff
dorkyrocker (Posted by) Level 3
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Five years ago, Montreat College in North Carolina was in serious trouble.

“The cost of educating students is more than what tuition provides,” interim president Joe Kirkland told the Asheville Citizen-Times. Students couldn’t afford higher tuition. Government aid was down. And costs kept going up.

Result - Expenses - Income - Alone—significant - Budget

As a result, expenses outweighed income by $300,000 in 2011 alone—significant in a budget of about $20 million. In 2012, the college laid off 29 full-time employees. In four years, enrollment plunged from 757 (2009) to 443 (2013).

Montreat’s situation wasn’t unusual. Undergraduate enrollment in America has fallen for six straight years, due largely to a drop in the birth rate, a recovering economy, and prices that have gone up almost 400 percent in the last 30 years.

Resources - Prestige - Schools - Schools - Enrollment

Without the resources or prestige of larger schools, small private schools have been hit especially hard. Enrollment at degree-granting colleges with fewer than 1,000 students dropped by 5 percent from 2010 to 2016; about 11 private colleges have closed each of the last three years.

Increasingly desperate, Montreat looked into merging with Point University in Georgia. But it wasn’t a good fit—the schools weren’t closely aligned theologically; programs would have to merge; Montreat’s residential campus would likely need to close. Montreat’s faculty voted “no confidence” in its board of trustees; Point’s board voted against the merger altogether.

Anyone - Montreat

Anyone could see that Montreat would have to close—and soon.

But it didn’t.

Today - Years - Enrollment - Montreat - Students

Today, after four straight years of growing enrollment, Montreat has 538 traditional undergraduate students on the main campus, up from 385 in 2014. The residential campus has run out of room; dozens of students are bunking at nearby conference centers. In the past three years, Montreat has hired more than 13 new full-time (and 26 part-time) faculty and staff. And 20 renovation or new construction projects—including a $2.7 million athletic complex—have been completed.

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