CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- University of Charleston enrollment is the highest in more than 40 years following a takeover of the ill-fated Mountain State University.
But it's less than UC officials expected.
On Thursday they announced a spring enrollment of 1,669 full-time students and a total head count of 1,884 students.
Enrollment had hovered around 1,400 students recently, but opening locations in the former Mountain State cites of Beckley and Martinsburg, as well as expanding online, led to the spike.
"We are extremely pleased with the growth in enrollment brought on by our recent expansion," UC President Ed Welch said in a news release. "Our focus now is to build on this base to serve additional students at each of our locations."
There are 1,367 students attending class on the Charleston campus. The remaining 517 are split between Beckley, Martinsburg and online. Some of those students are part-time, meaning they are enrolled in less than 12 hours of class, Welch said.
The enrollment surpasses the 1,567-student total from 1972 as the second largest in school history, according to the release. The largest enrollment was 1,828 students in 1971.
When UC announced it had received the go-ahead to take over Mountain State, it projected its enrollment would jump to nearly 2,000 students. The discrepancy comes because more students than anticipated completed Mountain State degrees before the school lost its accreditation.
"The main factor in it being lower is Mountain State awarded more degrees in December than they had forecast or they thought they would," Welch said Thursday by phone. "When they graduated people in December, then it was not necessary for them to take part in the teach-out."
Following a lengthy battle with the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accrediting body for institutions of higher education, Mountain State learned in July it would lose its accreditation. The commission had placed the school on a form of probation for a year leading up to the decision, noting academic, financial and leadership issues.
Mountain State announced it would appeal the decision but also entered into an agreement with UC for a "teach-out plan." Under the plan, UC would partner with Mountain State to help educate students close to earning their degrees, while Mountain State helped those not close to graduating pursue other options.
Mountain State lost its appeal following a hearing in late 2012, and officially lost its accreditation Dec. 31. Before then, it awarded 658 degrees to 624 students in its final month of existence, according to The Associated Press.