Hannibal-LaGrange University’s enrollment continues to climb, but that news didn’t come as a big surprise Wednesday to HLGU students.

Hannibal-LaGrange University’s enrollment continues to climb, but that news didn’t come as a big surprise Wednesday to HLGU students.

“It’s a wonderful school to go to,” said Rebecca Pfanner of Hunnewell, a senior in the nursing program. “I went to a different school before here and it (HLGU program) is a lot more complicated. I think it’s worth it.”

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Bonnie Snow of Hannibal, a sophomore who also is studying nursing. “HLG provides a quality education and a very nice environment for learning. I have a lot of classmates that are from places as far as Kansas City and they came here for the Christian environment and the education they provide. It’s not surprising it (enrollment) went up at all.”

The university’s growth has not happened by chance, according to Dr. Ray Carty, vice president of enrollment management.

“In the last two years specifically we have been somewhat intentional in trying to grow the institution. We grew significantly last year and then we grew some again this year,” he said, noting that while most students on campus come from either Missouri or Illinois, the student body represents 26 states and 27 countries. “We’re already above 1,200 students and our residential population has grown some again this year. It’s our intent to draw students from a larger area as well because in the area here that we normally draw from, or have in years past, the population is actually decreasing in Northeast Missouri some and West-Central Illinois. And educational opportunities are increasing, so we are attempting to meet the need of our community as well as draw students from a further distance.”

Final enrollment totals are not in yet.

“We think of Hannibal-LaGrange as Hannibal, but we have several extension areas that have yet to report all of their enrollment. Poplar Bluff is an area for us. Macon is an area. We have classes in Palmyra and Keokuk, Iowa,” said Carty.

New educational opportunities are a part of the university’s strategic plan.

“This year we put some new programs in place to help as well,” said Carty. “We started a new exercise science major this past year. We think it’s really going to grow for us in future years. We’re seeing some increase from it this year.

“We also have transformed our human services major into a social work major as well. We think that’s going to grow for us. Hannibal-LaGrange this last year formed a partnership, as some other schools have as well, with the University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Optometry so a student can come to Hannibal-LaGrange for three years, enter that program and be an optometrist in seven years instead of eight.”

The university is working to meet space needs, both now and in the future.

“A lot of construction, a lot of upgrades are happening,” said Carty. “Partly because of our growth in a couple of areas like nursing and allied health, and partly because of the storm that hit us May 20 during which we lost one building, we’ve had to relocate our nursing program over to Northport (Plaza). We also have brought to campus four modular education units that are housing our science labs and that kind of thing. We’re a little bit tight there, but we hope that by this time next year to have a new science building and perhaps a new allied health wing on that as well.”