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Summer School Enrollment Projections
by Silence Dogood

In an email on February 16th entitled “FYE enrollment projections information,” Vice President/Associate Provost of Strategy, Planning and Effectiveness Lisa Helmin Foss, listed summer enrollment projections for Sum’15 through Sum’20. The following figure shows the summer enrollments at SCSU from Sum’06 through Sum’14 with the enrollment projections for Sum’15 through Sum’20:

The 30.7% enrollment drop at SCSU from Sum’10 through Sum’14 has been well documented. The administration’s projections for Sum’15 through Sum’20 call for an additional 18.1% decline. Overall, the decline from 1,325 in Sum’10 to the projected 752 in Sum’20 represents a loss of 573 FYE, which corresponds to a decline of 43.3%. A 43.3% decline in summer enrollment may be unprecedented in MnSCU.

But of course the response that is often heard is that “everybody’s declining.” The following figure shows FYE enrollments at all of the MnSCU universities from Sum’06 through Sum’14:

Clearly, the figure shows SCSU has fallen from the largest summer enrollment by a wide margin to third!

From the figure, it is clear that the three MnSCU universities with the largest summer enrollments (SCSU, Metro, and Mankato) all experienced declines in enrollment for Sum’14. The four universities with the smallest summer enrollments (Winona, Moorhead, Bemidji, and Southwest) all experienced increases in enrollment for Sum’14. Even without a detailed analysis, the data clearly shows that since Sum’10 SCSU’s summer enrollment decline makes it an outlier from the other MnSCU universities.

Because of SCSU’s continued financial decline, it has been required to provide a “Financial Recovery Plan” to respond to its financial difficulties. In an effort at being ‘open and transparent’, as previously mentioned, the administration has released its projections for summer school for Sum’15 through Sum’20. SCSU’s summer enrollment projections have been added to the figure:

From the SCSU enrollment projections, if the trends of the other MnSCU universities are extended, it is clear that SCSU will soon fall into fourth place behind Winona.

For the past two years, SCSU’s enrollment projections have significantly underestimated the enrollment declines so the declines might actually be larger than those presented. However, these enrollment projections by the Administration seem to simply extend the current trend and accept SCSU’s fate of declining enrollment.

Just a few years ago, SCSU’s summer program yielded more that $2,000,000 in excess revenue (i.e., profit). As a result, it is hard to understand why the administration seems to simply plan on declining rather than choosing not to decline. Real leadership would say that this kind of decline is simply unacceptable and time and resources would be committed to significantly reversing the trend rather than simply throwing up their hands like they have no control over the outcome. It wasn’t that long ago that former Provost Malhotra wanted to expand summer to become a ‘third semester.’ From the data shown in the figure, that clearly isn’t happening any time soon!

What would make anyone have confidence in an administration that seems to accept defeat rather than one that’s going to go down fighting? Looking at these projections, it doesn’t look like there is a lot of fight left in this administration. Perhaps it’s time for a change. More of the same, at least according to these projections, is simply unacceptable.

2 Responses to “Simply unacceptable”

  • Yeager says:

    You’ve left out the key part of that communication, which is that these are the projected declines assuming that nothing will change. As you know, Summer Sessions were recently moved to University College, and the enrollment management plan has just begun, with the goal of increasing headcount by 178 for the upcoming summer.

  • Mystique says:

    When was the enrollment management plan shared with the campus community? How does moving Summer Sessions to University College contribute to reversing declining enrollments?

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