08/16/09 — Freshmen move in at MOC

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Freshmen move in at MOC

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 16, 2009 2:00 AM

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Freshman Courtney Bell fluffs her pillows on the bed in her residence hall room at Mount Olive College Saturday as she moved in.

MOUNT OLIVE -- One of the biggest freshmen classes in Mount Olive College history arrived on campus Saturday to settle in before the semester gets underway later this week.

The Class of 2013 is so big, in fact, that even with two brand-new dormitories unveiled earlier this month, some students were directed not to a dorm room, but to a nearby hotel when they and their parents pulled into the parking lot.

"They've had such an increase in students that they've overflowed," said parent Anita Ropp, as her daughter Amanda waited in a long line in the student center.

Ms. Ropp and her roommate Nicole Puckett are among two of the handful of students currently living in a Mount Olive hotel while the housing situation is resolved.

Amanda and her family chose MOC for a number of reasons, Mrs. Ropp said.

"We originally decided because they have a great agriculture program, and I liked that it was a smaller college, that it was a private, Christian-based college. I felt like she would be secure on this campus," she said.

Amanda plans to live on campus, but with the shortage of dorm rooms, "right now, we're not sure about that," Mrs. Ropp said. "They're trying to work that out right now. Hopefully in a few hours she'll have one."

The college enrolled about 775 total new students this fall, 215 of which are new freshmen. The college currently expects a total fall enrollment of 2,975 traditional and nontraditional students which is expected to increase to more than 5,000 students as more nontraditional students enroll in programs throughout the year.

The housing problem is temporary, said Dr. Rhonda Bryant, assistant vice president for student development/student success, and it didn't dim the college's enthusiasm for the start of a new school year.

"We've very happy, excited for this day," she said.

The continuing enrollment growth is bound to bring some growing pains along with it, but it's a good problem to have, Dr. Bryant said.

"Even with the new residence halls, sometimes we have a temporary situation where we have students show up who maybe we didn't know about, or sometimes we have a situation where we just admit a large number of students," she said. "But we do the best that we can to accommodate them temporarily till things settle out. Then in a few days we're able to find them the housing that they need."

The Class of 2013 is a special one for Dr. Philip Kerstetter, the new president of Mount Olive College, and his wife, Mary Kerstetter. The two addressed the students and their parents before inviting them to a luncheon at the college and an open house at the president's home.

"Just as you are new to Mount Olive College, so are we. You'll always have a special place in our hearts," said Dr. Kerstetter. "To the parents, I want to say that we will do everything to verify your trust in us."

The MOC Trojans are more than just students, said Mrs. Kerstetter.

"When people ask me how many children I have, I say about 800," she told the group. "I want you to know we will take care of your children. Their home will be our home and our home will be their home."

But even with a bevy of supportive staff and faculty, when it's time for Mrs. Ropp and Nicole's mother, Hope Porch, to leave their daughters in their new temporary home, they predicted there would still be a few tears shed -- even if they were wiped away in secret.