Franklin College welcomed one of its largest classes of incoming freshmen Thursday, with a growing number of students interested in studying science.
About 370 new students are starting class at Franklin College this school year, and 330 of those students moved into the college’s dorms Thursday. For many of those new students, their goal is to get jobs in health care and other fields expanding in central Indiana after they graduate, and the college is looking for ways to meet that demand, officials said.
Studying science today isn’t about sitting in a classroom memorizing facts and taking tests. Instead, it involves conducting lab experiments, and Franklin College needs to be sure it has the best lab facilities available for students, President James “Jay” Moseley said.
“Because we continue to have strong interest from students in sciences, we’re trying as hard as we can to address our need for a facility that has, number one, more space in it, because the students’ demand is larger than it was before science became so important in the state’s economy,” Moseley said.
“But also, we believe, based on all kinds of research, that learning science is a different kind of thing now than it used to be.”
The college wants to make about $25 million in additions and upgrades to Barnes Science Hall, adding new classrooms and lab space, and right now about a third of that amount has been collected, Moseley said. For the past two years, the private college has been seeking donations from corporations and individuals capable of making large contributions to pay for the renovations.
Franklin College could start construction on the renovations at Barnes Hall once about two-thirds of the $25 million is raised. That’s also when the college will likely start publicizing the project and asking more people and businesses for more contributions, Moseley said.
The upgraded science facilities are part of a multiphase construction plan Franklin College announced in 2009. The first phase involved renovations to the football and soccer stadium, which were finished two years ago and cost between $7.5 million and $8 million. That money also was generated through fundraising.
Right now, college officials want to focus on raising money for and then renovating the science facilities, and then they’ll identify and move on to the next phase of the construction plan, Moseley said.
Officials also are looking for a new full-time president. Moseley, who has been Franklin College’s president for more than a decade, has announced he will retire next spring. A search committee is working now to find a new president who will take over in 2015.
This week, though, their top priority is getting all of Franklin College’s new students settled in.
As of Aug. 13, 2,120 prospective students had applied for admission to Franklin College and 1,470 were accepted, vice president for enrollment and marketing Alan Hill said.
The 370 freshmen who decided to attend make up one of the largest incoming classes Franklin College has ever had and push enrollment at the college to more than 1,000 full-time students, which is in line with the college’s enrollment goal, Hill said.
Each of those students also is paying a slightly higher tuition. The total cost of tuition, room, board and other fees at Franklin College is $36,960 this year, up from $36,235 last year, which does not include books, Hill said. The increase was necessary to offset the growing expenses of running the college, Hill said.