The Richmond Register

March 3, 2013

New trolley helps take prospective students around Eastern campus


Special to the Register

RICHMOND — As Eastern Kentucky University has expanded in recent decades, admissions staff have found that taking prospective students and their families on walking tours of campus becoming more difficult.

The problem has grown greater as new buildings spring up on the south side of campus, separated from the older areas by a busy  four-lane highway, admissions officials say.

On Friday, the university showcased a classic 23-seat trolley that it will begin using to take guests on campus tours. Riding the trolly around campus will take about half the time as walking.

Once the property of a New Jersey community, the trolley was made handicapped accessible and painted in EKU’s maroon and white colors. It has large, sliding windows for full views, heat and air conditioning, and even a small sound system for tour leaders.

“We wanted something a little different,” Admissions Director Brett Morris said. “Lots of people have never ridden on a trolley, so this makes their visit unique.”

Morris said he knows of no other campuses, at least in Kentucky, that are using a trolley for campus visits.

The trolley proved especially valuable in its first month of use, February, said Zach Lawrence, who heads the campus visit program for the admissions office.

“Families are able to see the campus from inside,” he noted.

So far, the reviews have been positive.

Candice Graves, an EKU student and “Colonel Captain” who often leads campus tours, said she has had previous campus tour guests come back just to take the trolley tour, “and they absolutely loved it.”

The trolley easily takes visitors to all sections of the growing campus, Morris said.

“There’s a lot more to Eastern than just what we call the inner loop,” he said.

New facilities on the growing south side include the Center for the Performing Arts, the Business & Technology Center and a renovated Stratton Building.

“This is a wise investment,” Morris added, “because it gives us the ability to show prospective students and their families the full extent of what Eastern has to offer. They get to see that Eastern is a significantly larger campus than they might have expected.”

Because a student’s initial visit and first impressions are so important in their eventual choice of a college, Morris said expects the trolley to enhance Eastern’s recruiting.

Campus tours still include some walking, however. The trolley stops for inside visits to the EKU Fitness and Wellness Center, the John Grant Crabbe Library and a residence hall.

The trolley will be used mainly for campus tours. EKU continues to maintain shuttle buses to assist students in getting from one side of campus to another.

Campus visits can be scheduled online at admissions.eku.edu/visit.