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Minot State enrollment drops following flood

MINOT, N.D. (AP) -- Fall enrollment at Minot State University dropped by more than 5 percent this year, largely because of the major flooding that displaced thousands of homeowners and caused a housing shortage in the city, the school said.

The official fall semester enrollment reported by the school Tuesday is 3,657 students, a decrease of 209 students, or 5.4 percent, from fall 2010 but far short of the 10 percent decrease the school was expecting.

"Most of what is seen in decreased populations can be traced to Minot's housing shortage as a result of the flood," President David Fuller said.

The Souris River, swollen by heavy spring snowmelt and rain on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, swamped much of the city earlier this summer. The university itself was spared, but the flooding displaced about 11,000 city residents and damaged more than 4,000 homes, putting housing in demand. The number of students living in a Minot State residence hall or apartment is up 23 percent this fall to a record 656, the university reported.

Fuller said Minot State had been preparing for a 10 percent drop in enrollment, based on the experience of the University of North Dakota after the 1997 Red River flood in Grand Forks.

"Even though Minot State showed an enrollment decrease of 5.4 percent, this beat our expectations, which is positive," he said.

The school has taken several steps to address housing concerns, including creating more housing on campus and hiring an ombudsman to handle flood-related housing questions.

"As we move forward throughout the year, we will continue to study enrollment data and monitor housing access to determine what steps are necessary to recover through increased recruitment and marketing efforts," Fuller said.