Six Years of Enrollments at MnSCU Universities
SCSU Not Looking so Good!
by Silence Dogood

The following figure shows the Full Year Equivalent (FYE) enrollments for all of MnSCU universities from FY08 through FY13:

There are clear and obvious differences in the sizes of the institutions. However, what is perhaps more interesting are the trend lines for enrollment. Metro is looking good with five years of continuous growth. Winona’s overall trend looks to be heading upward. Mankato was a bit down for FY13 but the overall trend is upward. Southwest looks at least to be holding steady. The other three universities, Bemidji, Moorhead and SCSU all had increasing enrollments but have reached a peak and have all experienced two years or in the case of SCSU a three-year decline in enrollment. It is also clear that the decline at SCSU is significantly larger than the declines experienced by Bemidji and Moorhead.

In a St. Cloud Times article that appeared first online on November 21, 2013, this statement is made: “Enrollment is down at all seven state universities except Minnesota State-Mankato, which has stable enrollment. That means universities in the system are going through similar budget issues.” Unless you think the reporter made it up, this information was provided by the SCSU administration. It is also information that is clearly not true. The following plot shows the Fall’12 to Fall’13 enrollments from data taken from the MnSCU website.

The data shows clearly that not all seven universities are down because Metro’s enrollment is actually up and Mankato and Bemidji are both down by the same amount (0.3%). Further, it should be easy to verify from this data that the statement “universities in the system are going through similar budget issues” is also clearly not true. The decline at SCSU is more than double the decline at any other university. In fact, the FYE decline is greater for SCSU than all of the other universities combined!

If the percent decline for Fall 2013 is used to project the FY14 enrollments, the following figure is obtained.

What is clearly obvious is that Metro continued it’s mode of growth. Southwest, Bemidji, Winona and Mankato appear to be holding steady or only slightly declining. On the other hand, Moorhead seems to be headed in the wrong direction, being down from a peak enrollment of 6,812 in FY12 to 6,007 in FY14, which corresponds to a decline of 11.8%. It is now clear why the Moorhead administration has announced a 10% reduction in faculty. SCSU’s peak in enrollment occurred one year earlier than Moorhead’s toping out at 15,096 in FY10 but the decline has also been much more significant dropping to an enrollment of 12,335 in FY14, which translates into a loss of 2,761 FYE or a decline of 18.3%!

The other embarrassing fact revealed in the data is that Mankato is now ahead of SCSU by a total of 1,816 FYE amounting to a difference of 12.8%! So much for being the “second largest” university in Minnesota. The important question going forward is how can SCSU reverse the downward enrollment trend and at least stabilize enrollment? Clearly, being without a Vice President for Enrollment Management for over two years, being without a Director of Admissions for more than a year and being without an Enrollment Management Plan (EMP) for over two years, it is very difficult to believe that the downward trend will be reversed any time soon!

Perhaps a viable budget turnaround strategy might be to start investing in lottery tickets. Remember, somebody’s got to win!

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7 Responses to “SCSU dragging MnSCU universities down”

  • Jethro says:

    Someone go find Yeager to defend SCSU with a one or two sentence opinion not supported by data.

  • Yeager says:

    Fine, here ya go – regional demographics have anything to do with this trend? Metro, Winona, Mankato are in better shape than the western universities.

    I appreciate that Silence has seemingly embraced an analytical view of enrollment – its something that has been woefully lacking until very recently. Still waiting, however, for Silence to make a point beyond “the SCSU administration is doing something wrong!!” In fact, I’m not really even sure what Silence thinks that “something” is.

    These postings continue to be a breakdown of analytics but to what end? What’s the point? At the end Silence appears to suggest that this trend would be better if only SCSU would hire two or three more non-faculty positions…

  • Gary Gross says:

    I won’t speak for Silence. Instead, I’ll just offer my opinion on what’s wrong. On Sept. 20, 2011, President Potter fired Mahmoud Saffari. In the written explanation Dr. Saffari requested, Devinder Malhotra said that Dr. Saffari hadn’t put an enrollment management plan. After Dr. Saffari’s termination, however, the administration didn’t put a high priority on putting an enrollment management plan together.

    There still isn’t such a plan in place, which either indicates a) an unacceptable level of attentiveness to solving difficult problems, b) a failure to properly prioritize and follow through on solving problems or c) an indifference towards solving important problems.

    That’s just my theory. Still, I’d love seeing the administration offer specific information showing what I got wrong.

  • Nick says:

    Yeager, maybe check out the facts as to why the aviation program was shut down without any hearings?:

  • Jethro says:

    The video that Nick presented clearly shows President Potter lying. This is an integrity issue that underlies the whole leadership at SCSU. For Yeager, this seems like a non-issue because he doesn’t mention it. With the exception of Gary, why the faculty haven’t called Potter on the carpet to explain his constantly changing story regarding the aviation closure is a mystery. Do the faculty like being lied to by a university president? Is it the job of the Chancellor to provide cover for his sitting presidents? What are the trustees doing? How about the higher education committee chairs and members…have they not heard of oversight hearings? Is a $45 million dollar empty science building a non-issue? What do pro business republican politicians like Sen. Juliann Ortmann (and others) who sit on these higher education committees have to say?

  • Patrick-M says:

    Many universities with an aviation program are branching out into new technologies – those which might fit ISELF perfectly. This could help enrollment rebound.

    Kent State gets it. “…the university is intent on being at the forefront of the emerging technology…” The aviation industry supports 10 million jobs and $1 trillion in economic activity annually.

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