Departments feel effect of low enrollment

Margaret Langevin, Staff Reporter

Eastern’s lower enrollment has forced classes to condense in size, which can be beneficial to students and faculty.

Tom Glenn, the associate director of admissions, said some years certain majors are more commonly chosen than others. He said some of those majors are ones that Eastern doesn’t offer, such as nursing, engineering, law and agriculture.

While the low enrollment is hurting the university as a whole, smaller departments are feeling it too. Among those departments are history and foreign language.

From the school year 2007 to the school year 2013, the number of history majors decreased by 184 students or 54 percent. They also had to reduce the number of adjunct faculty in the department by three positions in three years said Anita Shelton, the history department chair.

The foreign language department has also had a decline in the number of majors. From the school year 2007 to the school year 2013 the number of majors in their department dropped by 10 students, or 18 percent.

Stephen Canfield, the foreign language department chair, said while having smaller class sizes is benefiting students, it’s hurting teachers. Canfield said many teachers, including himself, had to pick up extra classes.

The department has had to cut its Italian and Latin programs out of their department because of low enrollment and not being able to hire new teachers.

Canfield said smaller class sizes are important to students, especially in his department. It’s more beneficial for students learning languages to have a more one on one connection with their professors, he said.

Shelton said because of the decline in history majors, that means an optimized learning environment for students.

“There are significant benefits to students when classes are generally smaller,” Shelton said. “It provides an opportunity to faculty to interact with students on an individual basis and provide extensive supportive feedback on their work.”

Some Eastern students agree. Shana Sanchez, a senior Spanish with teacher certification, said she came to Eastern because of the smaller class sizes.

Chela Gurnea, a senior theatre arts and psychology major, said for her major, her class sizes are perfect.

“It also allows for more personal and mentor types of relationships with professors and instructors,” she said.

Chelsey Hutmacher, a junior communication studies and psychology major, said she likes having smaller classes at different times.

She said she prefers larger classes for general education classes, but for classes that require interaction and discussion she enjoys smaller classes so she gets to know her classmates on a first name basis.

In a press release issued last week, the university said it has little to no control over certain outside influences that might affect enrollment.

Glenn said one way the declining enrollment might end is by having Eastern students and teachers telling prospective students their stories of success while on campus.

Margaret Langevin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]