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MTI posts record enrollment

Mitchell Technical Institute announced record enrollment numbers for the fall during Monday evening's Mitchell Board of Education meeting at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary.

Greg Von Wald, president of MTI, presented a news release to the board that said the institute has a school-record 1,227 students enrolled this fall, up from 1,097 in fall 2012 and 1,108 in spring 2013.

The news release also says the school set another record, with its largest-ever class of first-year students at 648.

Von Wald said the enrollment increase can be attributed to several factors, including the new campus south of Interstate 90, the school's 98 percent placement rate and a variety of strong scholarship packages.

During the meeting, Von Wald also presented an overview of MTI's strategic plan for 2012-2017, outlining some of the school's ongoing successes and struggles.

"To see where we're at and where we're not at," he said.

In a follow-up interview with The Daily Republic, Von Wald described the strategic plan as a "living document," with some goals -- like increasing enrollment -- that renew themselves every year and others -- like moving into a centralized campus location -- that pave the way for new goals.

"So you continue to progress," he said.

The plan's six strategic goals include: 1) Ensure the fiscal viability and sustainability of the institution, 2) Facilitate an ongoing process of institutional effectiveness, 3) Position MTI as a premier institution for technical education, 4) Provide facilities and services that enhance student success and satisfaction, 5) Provide relevant, high-quality programs that prepare students to live and work in a global, diverse and technological society, and 6) Deliver instruction and training through a variety of methods to better serve the needs of industry and other external constituents.

Each of the six goals has multiple objectives, which Von Wald went through briefly with board members. Some of the areas Von Wald considered successful were continued growth in enrollment numbers, developing and implementing a comprehensive and consistent safety plan, and recruitment and retention of students.

"We're doing very well nationally," he said.

But the highlight, Von Wald said, was achieving Objective A on Strategic Goal No.4: Move to a single campus.

"Check that one off," he said, offering a thumbs-up to the board. That was accomplished this fall with the completion of the Trades Center, the final building on the campus south of I-90. With that building constructed, all of MTI's programs are consolidated on that campus instead of being split between there and the traditional campus near the high school. A Trades Center open house will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Other areas, like maximizing state and local support, Von Wald described as a "miserable failure," saying overall funding and per-student funding have both decreased in recent years.

Despite Von Wald's assertions that some areas still need improvement, board members offered positive feedback on MTI's growth.

"It's outstanding what you guys have done for MTI," board member Dana Price said.