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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune A smattering of students cross the quadrangle at Lincoln University Tuesday. Fewer students pass by statues of the founders of Lincoln University as enrollment continues to decline at the historically black college in Jefferson City. The number of students has drastically declined in the the last decade.

Lincoln University's enrollment has declined by 41 percent in the last nine years.

LU Board of Curators Treasurer Richard Popp gave a presentation on enrollment data during Tuesday's board meeting.

Enrollment was flat from 2000-11, but it began to decline in 2012. The average enrollment from 2000-11 was 3,241 students, compared to an average of 2,732 students from 2012-20. From 2018-20, enrollment declined by 19 percent, according to data on the university's website.

"What this presentation does is tell us what happened," Popp said Tuesday. "It doesn't tell us how to fix it. That's the next step. As long as we all agree that we have a need, then we can all focus on how to fix it."

The average enrollment for four-year public universities in Missouri declined by 4 percent from 2019-20, 13 percent from 2015-20, and 9 percent from 2010-20, according to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

Lincoln University's enrollment declined by 15 percent from 2019-20, 32 percent from 2015-20, and 36 percent from 2010-20.

In the last two years, the revenue the university receives from students has dropped by $4.5 million-$5 million, Popp said.

"This university isn't doing real well," he said. "We need to do something about it. We probably need to act now instead of waiting."

While there was only a 10 percent decline in the number of students not seeking a degree who take some classes at LU, enrollment in every college within the university — such as agriculture, business and education — has declined by 20-40 percent. There is no college within the university that has been affected significantly more than the others.

The number of male students declined by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years, and the number of female students declined by about 40 percent.

From 2000-11, LU had about the same number of white students. Most of those white students lived in the Jefferson City area and commuted, Popp said.

"For the longest time, Lincoln was the school of choice for local high school students graduating and not wanting to go away to school, save some money on room and board, save money on tuition," Popp said.

Since 2011, the number of white students at LU has declined by more than 50 percent.

"That's a big deal," Popp said. "Lincoln has lost its ability to attract local commuter students who happened to be mostly white."

The number of Black students enrolled at LU didn't change much from 2000-17. In the last three years, the number of Black students declined by 2 percent.

Popp said the university needs to figure out why there has been a decline in the Black population to stop the trend before it continues.

"All of a sudden, there has been a decline in the Black student population that's large enough that you cannot just overlook it," he said. "There's something substantive going on there that has resulted in a decline in the number of Black students attending Lincoln."

The number of LU students from Cole County declined by 35 percent from 2016-20, and the number of students from Mid-Missouri declined by 37 percent.

While the number of LU students from Kansas City increased by 21 percent from 2016-20, the number of students from the St. Louis area declined by 35 percent.

"That's something also that we need to try to figure out so we can get those students coming back," Popp said.

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