By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The University of Mississippi will continue to grow as it strives to meet the goals of its strategic plan, Chancellor Dan Jones said on Wednesday while speaking at a meeting of the Lee County Ole Miss Alumni Club.
Asked about the university’s plans for expansion, Jones said that its current size can make fundraising more difficult.
“Whether in physics or football, having only a third as many alumni as the University of Florida puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
A task force will study how the university should look in 10 years, Jones said, noting that the school would not expand enrollment just to raise money.
“We will continue to grow,” Jones said. “We are uncertain about what the pace of growth will be.”
This fall, the university reported an enrollment of 20,824 for all of its campuses, a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year. That figure has grown 45.8 percent from 14,284 in 2001.
As Ole Miss grows, Jones said, the top priority will be attracting more Mississippi students. In doing so, it will become more competitive for out-of-state students, who currently make up about a third of the student body.
Mississippi residents who meet the university’s minimum requirements will continue to be accepted, Jones said. For the first time, however, some out-of-state applicants meeting those requirements won’t be accepted, depending on remaining space.
“It is our time to pick and choose some of the best students in the country to be part of our great university,” he said.
As Ole Miss grows, it will continue to look for ways to expand its parking.
“By Mississippi standards we have a tough parking situation,” Jones said. “By major university standards, we have terrific parking. In Mississippi, we have a tradition of parking close to the front door.”
The campus will remain a walking campus with surface parking lots being added and park-and-ride options expanding, Jones said.
“You will always be able to park and get to class in 15 minutes,” Jones said.