I first wrote about President Potter’s enrollment nightmare in this post. That post was published on August 20, 2013. New figures from MnSCU have come to light that are worth examining.

In the initial post, MnSCU actual enrollment numbers said that St. Cloud State would collect $8,218,000 less in revenue than last year. As expected, that number is improving. Unfortunately for the Potter administration, the newest numbers are still pretty bleak. Based on enrollments as of August 22, 2013, St. Cloud State will collect $6,972,000 less during the 2013-14 school year than during the 2012-13 school year.

UPDATE: A faithful reader of this blog informed me that the $6,972,000 figure “is for FALL semester only” and that “it is worse than you say!” I stand corrected.

These numbers have been verified by a member of the budget committee. The person I’ve spoken with says that there’s a possibility that FYE enrollment (Full Year Equivalents) might be down by as much as 10% this year. The administration initially forecast that the FYE enrollment would be down by 2.8% to 3.2%.

When the administration first published those projections, few faculty members took the projections seriously. It’s apparent these faculty members were right about their skepticism. It isn’t a stretch to think that the faculty knew the administration’s figures were spin more than statistical projections.

It isn’t a stretch to think of the administration’s ‘projections’ as SWAG, aka a Statistical Wild Ass Guess. To be fair to SWAGers, though, it might be more accurate to simply call the Potter administration’s statistics as spin or wishful thinking.

St. Cloud State’s highest enrollment came in 2010. That year, approximately 18,300 students attended the University. That number had shrunk to approximately 15,600 last year, a decline of 14.75%. If enrollment drops another 10%, that means enrollment will have dropped by 23.5% in 4 years.

What’s worse is that St. Cloud State doesn’t have a plan to reverse the declines. Recently, they checked to see if anyone had seen any of Dr. Mahmoud Saffari’s enrollment retention proposals. When he was terminated, Provost Malhotra criticized Dr. Saffari for not having a “strategic enrollment management plan” in place:

From the October 31, 2011 letter from Provost Malhotra: “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 2 years since President Potter terminated Dr. Saffari. The University still doesn’t have a “strategic enrollment management plan.” Based on MnSCU’s enrollment figures, St. Cloud State better get one in place fast before its enrollment rivals that of the biggest community colleges.

At this point, there’s nothing suggesting that the Potter administration is being honest about their enrollment projections. There’s nothing suggesting they have a plan for turning around their enrollment declines.

That’s unacceptable and this administration knows it.

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3 Responses to “President Potter’s enrollment nightmare, Part II”

  • Stephen Fuller says:

    I suspected this might happen. I believe SCSU cannot expect to continue to recruit only from undergrad pool, esp. with the new emphasis on the Technical and Community Colleges. Those schools will get the bulk of that enrollment.
    SCSU should be focusing on upper division and grad programs for not only recruitment but its sustenance. Anything less will be just “spinning our wheels.”

  • Gary Gross says:

    Stephen, Thanks for that insight. For what it’s worth, I want SCSU to succeed because a vibrant, thriving SCSU adds to St. Cloud’s economic success.

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