» By CHRIS COPPEDGE – ccoppedge@my.apsu.edu

The new APSU and Volunteer State shared satellite campus, Highland Crest, has a startling imbalance in its registered students for the current school year.

At this time, there are zero APSU students enrolled at Highland Crest, while Vol State has roughly 500 of its students enrolled.

Highland Crest opened on June 22, in Springfield, Tenn., and the property was donated by local landowners Billy and Jean Batson. Tennessee voters approved the construction of the facility in 2009.

In the current partnership, Vol State is offering introductory and core classes, as well as classes that lead to a two-year associate’s degree. APSU offers upper division courses for students looking to acquire a four-year degree.

At this time, only two APSU majors are available at Highland Crest. These include Criminal Justice, with a concentration in Homeland Security, and Professional Studies.

Other courses offered at Highland Crest include Organizational Team Building, Constitutional Law, Management of Organizations, Criminal Ethics, Terrorism and the Law and Criminal Law.

The total number of courses currently offered at the college is 84.

Highland Crest follows the eight-week class format APSU’s Fort Campbell campus adheres to.

When it comes to the problem of recruitment, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Tristan Denley is understanding, but optimistic.

“Given the nature of this partnership, we always anticipated that enrollment in APSU classes might be very small at first,” Denley said.

He said the enrollment issue has not affected any faculty positions as a result, and that they are working to identify more majors to include on the campus.

This is to ensure when the Vol State students finish their two-year degrees, they will be able to seamlessly transition to the four-year APSU degree courses.

Denley also points out while there are currently no APSU undergraduates at Highland Crest, there are 30 masters students taking classes in Springfield this semester, although this section of students was established before the campus opened.

There has not been an increase of students from Robertson County coming to APSU, but Denley remains hopeful for that to change as well.

Vol State’s Coordinator of Communications and Public Relations, Eric Melcher, noted there are a few other problems facing Highland Crest.

“It’s the first campus established in Robertson County. The location’s a little out of the way, and it’s still very new,” Melcher said. He went on to say he was still very pleased with how the campus is performing.

Bill Persinger, Executive Director for Public Relations and Marketing, points out the current enrollment statistics are misleading in regards to the long-term goals for Highland Crest.

“There is a significant need for degree programs in the Springfield community, and specifically two-year degree programs,” Persinger said. “In many cases, we have sent students who wanted to enroll in our course offerings at Highland Crest to Vol State because they don’t meet our admissions criteria or, in some cases, they need courses only offered through the community college program.”

Persinger notes this is exactly what APSU wants for these students. They will be much more prepared for a four-year degree, the school will have a better understanding of what the students need and they will be able to graduate on time as a result.

“This effort also reflects the goals of the Tennessee Board of Regents, by improving graduation rates. The courses they take at Vol State are guaranteed to transfer to APSU, further assisting with improved graduation rates,” Persinger said.

“We are very encouraged by everything we see happening in Springfield and continue to work towards fulfilling the higher education needs of the Springfield, Robertson County community.” TAS