President's Newsletter July 2016

Budget & Enrollment

Efforts to regain market share in the School of Graduate and Adult Education (SGAE) continue to be mixed. Revenue goals were achieved for the most recent MODs 5 and 6. There has also been good progress growing online enrollment, with over 125 students enrolled in graduate and adult online degree programs.

Overall, however, the SGAE finished the ’15-’16 fiscal year once again behind its revenue plan with fall 2016 projections also tracking behind plan. A series of actions have been implemented on the marketing side to expand “leads” — the pool of prospective adult students — in support of enrollment growth. Early indicators show signs of progress, but it will take additional time before we see significant improvement.

As of mid-July, we continue to track behind the enrollment goal for new students (first-year and transfers). This is surprising since freshman inquiries, applications and acceptances are at record levels.

Among key factors influencing these results is our need to enroll far fewer OT students than last year (because the program is operating at capacity). While this adjustment was anticipated, a notable, unexpected decline in yield for students in our fourth (bottom) quality quartile produced an additional shortfall of three dozen students. Our team is studying these results, but there is already anecdotal evidence that other schools are providing significant academic merit awards to students who are meeting only minimum admission standards. In contrast, it is encouraging that the stronger students in our admissions pool are continuing to enroll in good numbers.

Even better news concerns retention levels for undergraduate students returning in the fall, which as of July 4, were tracking ahead of last year’s figures and current plans, both for first-year and upper class students. This is a positive indicator of student satisfaction that will bolster the number of students living on campus. It also reflects an excellent, concerted effort of staff and faculty across campus.

Careful monitoring of enrollment trends has made possible proactive contingency planning to address the budget impact and ensure we manage the related revenue shortfall effectively to meet budget goals for ’16-‘17.

The preliminary budget approved by the Board assumes more modest enrollment goals with cost reductions and additional contingency funding available to offset the decrease in projected revenue.

Obviously, we will need to take appropriate actions to ensure the university operates within its means. Particular focus will remain on providing continued support for students’ learning and personal growth and supporting employee compensation, especially our highly competitive employee benefits programs.

If we are successful in implementing cost management efforts, and enrollment meets new lowered goals, it is hopeful that a modest raise for faculty and staff may still be possible. As has been the case for the past several years, the decision regarding a pay raise will be made by Oct. 1.

I will update you on all of these topics and more at the State of the University meeting in August.

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president's newsletter july 2016

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