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Fisher talks Wedgewood, enrollment in Q-and-A

While the construction for the Wedgewood Academic Building may still be deep in a hole, President Bob Fisher said in a Q-and-A session Monday building will emerge into form quickly.

“By the time students come back from winter break the parking levels will have been started and by the beginning of next semester we are expecting the main structure of the building to be finished,” Fisher said. “Ultimately, at the conclusion of the spring semester in 2014, we are hoping to have finished construction.”

The building, said Provost Thomas Burns, has the potential to be a cornerstone academic facility for the departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Religion.

“The university plans to have world class labs as well as large lecture halls for students,” he said. “The administration believes that this will attract large amounts of students into these scientific programs which will possibly result in funding for all sciences as well as an increase in upper-class electives to target more specific departments of sciences.”

A year after Wedgewood opens, Fisher also said he expects the school to have an enrollment of 7,000 students. After that, projected enrollment numbers aren’t yet clear.

“There is no perfect number of students for Belmont, but the administration wants an ideal enrollment of somewhere between 7,000-10,000 students,” Fisher said.

During the hourlong “Ask Dr. Fisher” convo, he also spoke about the new residence hall that will open in January. While the hall’s capacity will be 300-400 students, the apartment-style residence hall will not be at full capacity in the spring.

“The first residents of the dormitory will be students who were required to move out of their respective Bruin Hills duplexes due to their demolition for the new dorm,” Fisher said. “In the fall semester of 2013, it will house only sophomores.”

The question was followed-up by another individual asking about the retention rate. The 67 percent graduation rate is one Fisher wants to understand and improve.

“With the increasing number of undergrads, we have been involved in understanding why students have chosen not to stay at Belmont,” he said. “We ask them before they leave, what they liked or disliked about the university and what were there primary reasons not to return. Sometimes we get insightful response and other times we do not. Still, every bit of information helps.”

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