The William Carey University Tradition campus in Biloxi has posted a record enrollment of 1,154 students for the fall 2015 academic term, which is the highest number of students in the university’s 40-plus years of service to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a 22 percent increase from fall 2014.
The record enrollment comes only six years after the dedication of the campus in August 2009. The campus was built as a replacement for Carey’s original Gulf Coast campus, which was located on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the campus in August 2005, prompting enrollment to fall from a then-record of 800 students to 500 students.
“The campus was completely devastated, and we were out of classes for three weeks after the hurricane,” said Jerry Bracey, administrative dean for Carey’s coast operations since 1999. “We were holding classes at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport and at Gulfport High School before moving back into modular buildings on the remains of the campus.”
Bracey and other Carey administrators were determined to rebuild Carey’s coast operations. A site in the Tradition Planned Community on Highway 67 was eventually selected to house the new campus. The 50-acre Tradition campus welcomed 710 students when it opened in fall 2009. New and expanded academic programs have allowed the number to balloon by nearly 450 students to the current numbers, said Bracey.
“New programs, like criminal justice, are seeing a lot of interest, and there are also increases in enrollment for our biology, education, nursing, psychology and business programs,” said Bracey. “I also attribute our enrollment increase to our caring staff, who spend a great amount of time with prospective students and make them feel welcomed.”
The campus offers undergraduate and graduate degree options. Programs offered include art, biology, business administration, counselor education, criminal justice, education, gerontology, health-related professions, nursing and psychology. The campus is also the anchor for a five-mile Health Care Industry Zone, which was approved by the Mississippi Legislature in 2013 under the Mississippi Health Care Industry Zone Act. The act allows incentives for health care-related businesses that locate or expand operations within state-approved industry zones.
“Due to strong academic offerings and the support of the coast community, Carey has reached another milestone in enrollment at the Tradition campus,” said Dr. Tommy King, Carey president. “We remain committed to providing higher education to the coast.”
Total enrollment at Carey, including the Tradition campus and the main campus in Hattiesburg, stands at 4,330 students, an increase of 4.5 percent from fall 2014.