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Enrollments are down at most MnSCU universities. They vary in seriousness from Mankato to SCSU. According to this article, Moorhead University’s enrollment is off pretty dramatically:

Enrollment at the school has declined by about 11 percent in the past four years, prompting the projected budget deficit. The school is targeting faculty for reductions to match the decline. “There’s just a very direct connection between how many students we have and how many faculty we need,” Blackhurst said.

Thanks to this article, we know that things at Minnesota State University- Moorhead are in turmoil:

If you’re planning to attend either Minnesota State University Moorhead or the University of the District of Columbia, best get in your Romeo and Juliet now—and while you’re at it, you should probably learn the formulas for velocity and momentum, and study up on the Spanish-American War. Because soon, these regional public universities may have no departments of English, physics, or history—nor a host of other programs often associated with “college,” including political science (MSUM), philosophy (MSUM), computer science (MSUM), and even economics (UDC).

If you think things are in tough shape in Moorhead, they are. They just aren’t in as tough of shape as at St. Cloud State. If Silence Dogood’s statistics are accurate, which they have consistently been, FYE enrollment at SCSU will be down almost 20% since FY2010. (That’s the 2009-2010 school year.)

That’s just the enrollment numbers. I wish enrollment was St. Cloud State’s only problem. It isn’t. St. Cloud State has lost north of $3,000,000 on their lease with the Wedum Foundation over the last 3 years. With enrollment declining dramatically, a sharp drop in dorm occupancy has happened. The peak occupancy was 96% in FY2010. This year, it’s at 78% with an asterisk. The asterisk comes from not knowing if that 78% is based on the total number of rooms on campus or if it’s based on the total number of available dorm rooms. If they subtracted the number of rooms getting renovated, that 78% figure might be artificially high.

What isn’t known is how much revenue has come in from renting dorm rooms. That’s the only statistic that matters to budgets and their impact on departmental staffing.

Earlier this fall, the school planned to offer early retirement incentives to 35 people. Only 19 faculty members and two staff members indicated they would accept early retirement. Those retirements combined with vacancies the school hasn’t filled will reduce the deficit by about $2.5 million, Blackhurst said.

A second round of retirement incentives targeted toward departments that need additional reductions will be offered. “We’d rather have those reductions be voluntary,” she said. Blackhurst said the list of departments prioritized for reductions is not final.

It’s apparent that Moorhead is in more financial trouble than St. Cloud State. Still, it isn’t a stretch to think that St. Cloud State could be in as dire of straits as Moorhead within 2 years.

There’s no disputing whether Moorhead is in difficult financial and academic straits. It’s definitely in dire straits. Likewise, there’s no question that St. Cloud State is heading in that direction.

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