Traditionally, Rocky Mountain College has had a strong American Indian presence, with a higher percentage of native students than most four-year campuses in the state.
A decade ago, Indian students made up 7 to 9 percent of Rocky’s enrollment for several years running.
Those numbers have been dropping in recent years. This fall, 19 American Indian undergraduate students are attending Rocky.
That made up 2 percent of the total enrollment of degree-seeking undergrads.
One factor in the lower American Indian enrollment may be because the school no longer has an American Indian Student Services office, said Kelly Edwards, vice president for enrollment management.
However, the college continues to actively seek out both tribal college and high school students from all reservations, she said.
That effort includes visits by Rocky President Michael Mace to reservation high schools and mailings about Rocky to all Montana high school graduates.
“Our recruiting program is the same for all students across the spectrum,” Mace said, adding that fewer numbers of American Indians at Rocky now may reflect the bad economy.
Rocky, a private college, costs more than state schools. American Indian families may have found it harder to send a student to Rocky in the past few years because of the recession, Mace said.
Jane Van Dyk, associate vice president and director of Rocky’s Services for Academic Success program, would like to see more American Indians at the college because they would add diversity to the student body and share their cultural heritage with other students.