The atmosphere of the Faith Based Leaders Breakfast this passed Saturday at Malcolm X College was likened to a formal office meeting.

Taking place at the college, 1900 W. Van Buren, and within the walls of the college presidents’ foyer room, men and women adorning suits and power dresses respectively sat in a round table setting to break bread and discuss the college’s ambitious new enrollment strategy. Church leaders from throughout the city were present.

Outside the first-floor foyer, though, the school’s open house for prospective fall students created an environment more likened to a block party.

The contrast between the reserved faith-based breakfast and party-type atmosphere was just the kind of complement school officials hoped for.

“We want to show the community and let the community know that Malcolm X College is there college,” said Zerrie Campbell, president of the college.

Saturday’s open house kicked off the college’s ‘Hit the Streets’ campaign to boost enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year.

The morning faith-based breakfast Saturday was part of an all-day open house with free food, music and entertainment. Festivities resumed this past Monday ?” the official start of fall enrollment at MXC?” with the ‘Summer Sizzle Registration’ period, lasting until Saturday.

Registration is from 9 in the morning to 6 in the evening during the week, and from 9 a.m. to 2 in the afternoon on Saturday.

Last Saturday’s breakfast was capped off by a performance by the African dance ensemble Najwa Dance Corps, followed by a Latin Band performing Salsa music.

Visitors and MXC students also participated in raffles and campus tours spotlighting the school’s Radiology, Emergency Medical Technician and Mortuary Science programs.

The college is looking to boost enrollment in all of its academic programs.

“Our campaign is designed to get the word out that educational opportunities are available and everyone is welcome at Malcolm X College,” said Alonzo Rhoden, Malcolm X College website designer, and one of the event coordinators.

Rhoden, a parishioner at Salem Baptist Church, was motivated to start the “Hit the Streets” campaign by his pastor the Rev. James Meeks, who once discovered that more than 1,000 prospective college students in his congregation were not enrolled anywhere.

Meeks would use the church, Rhoden said, as a forum to encourage greater enrollment, particularly by minority students.

“One thing we want people to know is that there is funding available for those who think they cannot afford to go,” he said. “We have grants, financial aide and scholarship programs. We can work with any student regardless of their financial situation.”

The college is looking to increase enrollment in its regular College Credit courses from its current 3,800 students to 5,000, and from 550 to 1000 students in its Continuing Education program. School officials would also like to see their Adult Education/GED enrollment, currently at 4,000, increased by 1,000 students.

All totaled, the campaign’s target is roughly 3,000 new students enrolled for the upcoming year.

“We definitely believe we can do it,” said Campbell about the ambitious projections.

George Henderson of Greater Garfield Baptist Church, and president of the Westside Ministers Union, who attended the Saturday breakfast, said it was lofty goal to increase enrollment by 20 percent in all fields, but “certainly doable.”

“I found out about the event just in time to attend,” he said. “We are all working together with our own churches to accomplish this goal.”

To do that would include speaking to their congregations about college entrance and supporting college recruitment events like the open house, Henderson said.

Meanwhile, those who have not been to Malcolm X College within the last year will notice several upgrades made to the school.

MXC’s $35 million renovation to the campus building, including upgrades to bathrooms and classrooms, is nearly complete.

“We have finished the first two phases of our upgrading project, which included new air ducts cooling the building in the summer, better lighting on the stairwells and classes, better furniture in the classes, window treatments and a new and improved multimedia center,” said Ghingo Brooks, vice-president of Enrollment Affairs. “It’s a $35 million project, and we’re looking forward to finishing the final phase.”

For information about fall registration and other programs, call 312/850-7000 or visit the school website at

Terry Dean contributed to this story.