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The last few years, enrollment at St. Cloud State has declined. When the totals are reported this year, it’ll confirm that this is the 4th straight year of declining enrollments. A report compiled by Tom Fauchald using MnSCU data showed that St. Cloud State would experience a drop in revenues of $8,218,0000 for the school year that’s about to start.

Another way of looking at St. Cloud State’s enrollment crisis is that their enrollment peaked at over 18,400 students for the 2010-11 school year. This year, that total is projected to be 15,600. That’s a drop of 2,800 students in 3 years. That’s a drop of approximately 15%.

As startling as those figures are, that’s only part of the problem. The biggest problem is that St. Cloud State’s enrollments won’t rebound for at least another 4 years. If that’s the case, that means St. Cloud State will lose at least $25,000,000 in tuition revenues before enrollment rebounds. That’s assuming that it rebounds soon. If it doesn’t, St. Cloud State will lose significantly more revenues.

Attached to that frightening figure is that student fees revenues are tied directly to enrollment. One of the things that students fees help pay for is the football program. If enrollment continues dropping, the student fees that pay for the football program drop, too.

This enrollment decline won’t turn around without a change in strategy. That won’t happen until President Potter is terminated or retires. President Potter’s rebranding initiative is a failure. Their billboards and late night TV advertising essentially delivers the message that St. Cloud State exists.

The ads don’t talk about great programs. They don’t talk about the skills students will learn to propel them into their career. They don’t talk about anything that will get a potential student’s attention. That means this advertising won’t turn potential students into the next incoming freshman class.

During the first year of declining enrollment, the administration tried spinning the drop in enrollment as part of their rightsizing plan. Clearly, that spin isn’t convincing after 3 years of major enrollment decreases.

When Mahmoud Saffari was fired from his position as St. Cloud State’s Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Provost Maholtra’s letter to Saffari said “During my tenure as provost you have not produced a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan, despite my continual counsel to you to focus on data analytics and statistical predictive models.”

It’s almost been 2 years since Dr. Saffari was given his termination notice. Since that day, nobody at the university has been with putting together “a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan.” It’s apparent that this wasn’t really a priority for St. Cloud State. It’s apparent that was just an excuse to terminate Dr. Saffari.

It wouldn’t be fair to blame the enrollment decline on Saffari’s termination. It’s more than fair, though, to say St. Cloud State’s enrollment management system is flailing since Dr. Saffari’s departure.

If President Potter doesn’t turn this enrollment trend around, he’ll deserve a termination notice, too. Annually losing millions of dollars in tuition revenue and student fees isn’t the right way to rebrand St. Cloud State.

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