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This has been a tough year for just about everyone, but Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, president of Kentucky State University, sees brighter days ahead for KSU.

“Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, I have never been more excited for the future of our great university,” Brown said at the State of the University assembly Tuesday on campus.

“It has been an interesting year. There’s a quote, by Karen Salmansohn, that says that when your world gets turned upside down, view it from a new perspective.

“Kentucky State has responded to the challenges set before us not by complaining, grieving, griping, moaning or grumbling, but by growing our way out of a pandemic, out of a recession and out of an uncertain future.”

Kentucky State moved to remote instruction on March 3 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“March was surreal,” Brown said. “The depopulation of the campus for those of us that were here was nightmarish. It was like walking through a ghost town.”

KSU is doing a hybrid form of instruction for this semester.

Despite COVID-19, the school has seen a slight increase in enrollment for the 2020 fall semester.

Brown said preliminary reports show 2,225 students enrolled at the school, including 140 graduate students. The 2019 fall semester had an enrollment of 2,171. Of those, 141 were graduate students.

This semester there are students from 57 of the 120 counties in Kentucky. The school also has students from 37 states and four of the seven continents: North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

This semester’s freshman class represents 27 states, with 38% of the class from Kentucky. That’s up from 32% during the 2019 fall semester.

Nearly 72% of KSU undergraduates were Kentucky residents in last year’s fall semester. The school is waiting on numbers for this semester.

“More and more Kentuckians are choosing Kentucky State,” Brown said. “Not only that, we continue to see increases in our transfer students, not just from KCTCS but other public and private institutions in the commonwealth. We are not an institution of last resort; we are an institution of choice.”

Brown said the General Assembly approved a bond for new student housing. It will be KSU’s first new residence hall in a decade, and it will be taken up at the next board retreat.

In the U.S. News and World Report 2021 Best College Rankings, Kentucky State went from No. 34 last year to No. 29 this year among HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

• President’s Awards of Excellence were presented to Irma Johnson, community engagement; Christopher Cribbs, cooperative extension; Dr. Mary Barr, research; Jamar Simmons, student services; Dr. Shannon Brogan, teaching; and Pat Pruitt, university service.

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