Thursday afternoon, I met with people from St. Cloud State. Last week, I’d heard the rumor that President Potter had talked about me during last Thursday’s Meet & Confer meeting. During yesterday’s meeting, I confirmed that. One of the people attending this afternoon’s meeting asked me if I knew that “your name was entered into the record” at last week’s Meet & Confer meeting. I said that I’d heard the rumor but that this confirmed it.
It’s stunning that the president of a major university would mention me at a meeting between his administration and the Faculty Association. Apparently, he’s upset with me writing about his enrollment difficulties. That led to him going off script, which led to him talking about me.
That’s stunning from the standpoint that I didn’t hide where I got the information from. I cited a report put together by Dr. Tom Fauchald. Dr. Fauchald used MnSCU’s enrollment data pulled from the universities’ enrollment data bases.
The reality is that enrollment is way off this year, perhaps by as much as 9 points from last year. Last week, I wrote that the Sept. 4th report from Dr. Fauchald showed SCSU enrollment down 12% from last year’s 30-day enrollment. That’s significantly different from President Potter’s figures. During last week’s Meet & Confer, Potter insisted that enrollment would be down 5% from last year’s 30-day figure.
The 10-day report is awful news for Potter because dropping enrollments translate into a huge drop in tuition revenue and student fees. In turn, that potentially means major budget cuts. That’s the last thing that’s needed at a university where people walking on eggshells already.
Earlier, I wrote that this will be the third straight year of enrollment drops. If this year’s drop is 5%, which it won’t be, the three year drop will be more than 15%. If this year’s drop is closer to 8%, which is likely, that figure will rise to nearly 20%.
That’s a catastrophic figure. St. Cloud State lost its status as MnSCU’s flagship university last year if measured by FYE enrollment, though they still held it in terms of total enrollment. This year, they’ll lose on both counts.
The question shifts to whether Dr. Malhotra is sacrificed when the real enrollment figures are announced. Potter can’t do nothing when his ship is sinking like this. When SCSU terminated Dr. Mahmoud Saffari, one of the reasons listed in Provost Malhotra’s letter was that Dr. Saffari hadn’t put together “a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan.”
It’s been 2 years since Dr. Saffari was terminated. SCSU still hasn’t “have not produced a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan.” While it’s true that Dr. Malhotra wrote that Dr. Saffari needed to put together “a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan”, it’s equally true that putting a satisfactory strategic enrollment management plan” should’ve been President Potter’s priority, too. If President Potter didn’t push that initiative, then he’s responsible for SCSU’s declining enrollment, too.
By all accounts from eyewitnesses at M&C, President Potter’s stature dropped by criticizing me. He let his vindictiveness get in the way of solving important problems at SCSU.