Murray State offers to help Mid-Continent students

Since the announcement that Mid-Continent University will close at the end of June, Murray State has been flooded with phone calls from students asking about the possibility of transferring.

Jay Morgan, vice president of Academic Affairs, said the Transfer Center has received transcripts and applications to transfer from between 15 and 20 Mid-Continent students each week.

“We feel sorry for the students at Mid-Continent because they are disadvantaged from a student perspective,” Morgan said. “We have reached out to Mid-Continent and presented them with a couple options to work with them to transfer their students over to Murray State.”

The Mid-Continent board of trustees declared that the school would be closing after being unable to secure necessary funding and alternative revenue to keep the university running.

One month prior to the board’s announcement, Tom Butler, chairman of Mid-Continent’s board of trustees, assured the faculty, staff, students and community that the school would “not be closing anytime soon.”

Mid-Continent’s budget crisis and its $22 million deficit stemmed from the retraction of federal funding by the U.S. Department of Education due to a failure to produce required documentation to prove their students’ need for financial aid.

The next day after the university’s notice of closure, the entirety of the approximately 50-member staff was laid off.

Morgan said for the most part, credits from Mid-Continents students will transfer to Murray State seamlessly, especially those currently enrolled in business administration, psychology and education programs.

He said he will work with students who are part of programs and classes not offered at Murray State to transfer their credits or find equivalent credits here, especially those students who are close to graduating in May.

In an email to faculty, Morgan included a link to a “landing page,” where Mid-Continent students interested in Murray State can find out more information on the process.

“This is rolling very quickly, so we are putting much of this together on the go,” Morgan said in the email. “So, as you get students in or receive calls, we are simply trying to accommodate them to the best of our ability through our transfer center.”

Murray State held its annual, roaming, open house Thursday at the West Kentucky Rural Electric office in Mayfield, Ky., where Mid-Continent is located, 30 minutes from Murray State’s main campus. Morgan said the open house this year had an added emphasis aimed at potential transfer students.

Beside this effort, he said the University has reached out to Mid-Continent students through social media.

Approximately 2,000 students are enrolled in classes at Mid-Continent.

Of those 2,000 students, less than 300 are full time and take most of their classes on Mid-Continent’s campus.

Most of the other students take classes online.

President Tim Miller said a number of universities other than Murray State have offered support to Mid-Continent students. Other regional institutions are seeking to be recommended as Mid-Continent’s institution of choice for the displaced students.

“We’re the only four-year public university in western Kentucky and so we’ve got an obligation to meet the needs of students in this region,” he said. “There are all kinds of schools who want to help, and that’s fine, but we feel like they’re right in our backyard and we ought to be the ones taking care of them.”

He said Murray State has already accepted some students from Mid-Continent.

Miller said those students have applied and are working with others to improve their transcripts so they can apply and potentially receive financial aid.

Miller said it’s possible Murray State will offer a reduced tuition to Mid-Continent students who transfer here for their first semester to help them get back on their feet, but he said he also would want to be mindful about not discriminating against the University’s other students.

Despite having been laid off, former Mid-Continent faculty and staff will be volunteering and continuing to teach students pro bono to allow seniors set to graduate this year to do so in May.

Representatives from the Department of Education arrived on campus last week and have been working with the school on submitting new federal aid paperwork for students, with no date of re-opening yet announced.

 

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer