President Potter’s Legacy
by Silence Dogood

A fact of university life is that Presidents come and go. Some are good and some are not so good. Every once in a while you get a good one and you hope that they stick around. Unfortunately, most the time the good ones leave looking for greener pastures. Without a doubt, no matter what good he may have done, President Potter’s legacy at SCSU will be his leadership of the university during the largest sustained enrollment downturn in modern SCSU history.

The website for the Office of Strategy, Planning & Effectiveness has the following link showing the enrollment at SCSU from FY2000 through FY2014.

The figure below is reproduced from the SCSU website:

From its enrollment high in FY10, enrollment has dropped from 15,096 FYE to 12,381 FYE in FY14. This corresponds to a drop of 2,715 FYE and represents a drop of 18.0% over a four-year period.

The figure below is reproduced from the SCSU website showing the annual percentage change from year to year.

A look at the figure shows that the rate of decline in enrollment is decreasing from FY12 to FY14. This might be considered ‘good news.’

President Potter formed the Data Analytics Group to accurately predict the enrollment at SCSU. In case you didn’t know, enrollments are important for planning budgets since as much as two-thirds of the university’s revenue comes from tuition with the other one-third coming from state appropriations.

Last March the Data Analytics group projected for FY15 a decline of 3.2% in FYE enrollment, for FY16 a decline of 2.3% in FYE enrollment and for FY17 a 1.3% decline in FYE enrollment. If true, this would really be good news and might make one believe that the enrollment decline has bottomed out and that the enrollment is beginning to rise or is at least holding steady.

Unfortunately, the enrollment for Summer 2014 was down 9.4% FYE from Summer 2013. As a result, the Data Analytics Group has revised its enrollment projection for FY15 from a drop of 3.2% to a drop of between 4-5%. Having looked at some of the preliminary data, it might be hard to be near the 4% drop unless the Senior-to-Sophomore numbers are significantly improved from last fall. More likely, it looks as if a drop of 5% will be wishful thinking and the decline may be in the range of 5.5%.

Although there is only a short history of projections of the Data Analytics Group, in February 2013 they projected an FYE decline of 2.4% for FY14. The actual decline was 5.1%. The projection in March 2014 for FY15 was for a decline of 3.2% FYE. Based on the data from summer and fall enrollments, their projection has now been revised to a drop of between 4-5%. So it is hard to actually believe that their FY16 and FY17 projections are much more than wishful thinking.

If the enrollment is down 5% for FY15, the FYE enrollment at SCSU will be 11,762 and represent a loss of 22.1% FYE enrollment in five years. So when President Potter’s contract expires in 22 months, enrollment at SCSU may be down over 25% during his tenure. Not many university Presidents will be able to match that!

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