President Potter’s spin is non-stop. Maura Lerner’s article is just the latest edition of President Potter’s spin:

He said that colleges across the nation are struggling with similar challenges, including declining numbers of high school seniors. “The whole country is going through this,” he said. “Enrollments are down across the country.”

President Potter, name another university that’s seen its FYE (Full Year Equivalent) enrollment shrink by one-fourth over the past 5 years. While you might find another university or two who’ve seen that type of drop, it certainly isn’t common like President Potter insists.

This statement is frightening:

“What we’re trying to do is right-size and figure out what’s the appropriate size for St. Cloud State University,” he said. “It does not mean getting bigger and bigger. That’s not our future.”

Think about that. SCSU is trying to “right-size” but they’re still trying to “figure out what’s the appropriate size” for SCSU? Whether it’s a major corporation or a major university, major changes require thoughtful planning. Saying that SCSU is “right-sizing” isn’t credible without them first stating what a right-sized university looks like. It’s like saying you have a goal, which you’ll announce when you’ve achieved that goal.

The idea behind announcing a major plan is that it gives people a sense of direction and purpose. Saying that ‘we’re changing’ without giving details of how you’re changing is like inviting people to your house without giving them your address or directions.

What corporation could survive with that type of leadership? What board of directors would accept that type of rudderless direction?

Here’s more of President Potter’s spin:

This week, President Earl Potter sent out an all-campus e-mail saying that the school is projecting a 4 to 5 percent drop in enrollment this fall. That follows a 10 percent decline over the previous four years.

I don’t think Earl realizes he’s mixed headcount enrollment with FYE enrollment. I don’t think he cares that he’s mixing them. What he’s done, however, is said that the trend is getting worse. If enrollment has dropped by 10% over 4 years, that’s a per year drop of 2.5%. This year, however, that drop, according to President Potter’s admission, will be 5%, twice the rate of the previous 4 years.

Admitting that you don’t know what a right-sized SCSU looks like is frightening. Admitting that enrollment is dropping at a higher rate now than when enrollment started dropping and that you don’t know what a right-sized SCSU looks like is essentially admitting you don’t know what your goal is.

That isn’t leadership. That’s what flying by the seat of your pants looks like.

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2 Responses to “President Potter’s spin”

  • Crimson Trace says:

    Potter said that the economy and other factors have contributed to the decline, including the university’s decision last year to accept fewer students needing remedial help.

    This is even more spin. We are starting a 5th consecutive year of an enrollment decline. So the university makes a decision to accept fewer students needing remedial help LAST YEAR? This is not a major contributing factor…it is an excuse. Almost 1 out of 5 students are post secondary enrollment students…high school students taking a class or two. Saffari was terminated 3 years ago and there is still NO enrollment management plan. No defined target as to what rightsizing should be for SCSU. Potter and Chancellor Rosenstone have failed miserably. With a budget deficit in the 8-10 million dollar range, I don’t see how there won’t be employee layoffs unless the reserve fund is plush with money or the legislature bails out Rosenstone.

  • Patrick-M says:

    A quick review of the data for comparable schools in the University of Wisconsin System shows that Earl Potter’s statement is pure bunk…“Enrollments are down across the country.” Guess faculty and staff at SCSU are in for a big shock once the budget axe falls on them. Notice I did not include Administration in that line – that area always increases. Faculty should investigate how many Management Analysts have been hired in MNSCU and specifically at SCSU since that “re-structuring”. …and I wonder why Earl didn’t implement “flexible hiring” back in 2010 when the Aviation Program was trashed/cut. My educated opinion is that Aviation was pre-targeted for elimination by DeGroote, Potter, Malhotra and Olson.

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