Review committee hears of enrollment trends, proposals

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Review committee hears of enrollment trends, proposals

Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News
Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, Institutional Repository Librarian Todd Bruns, and Rebecca Throneburg, communication and disorders and sciences professor, listen to Michael Dobbs’ presentation on enrollment in Illinois’ higher education. The presenation showed that, on average, from 2006-2016 enrollment in Illinois universities was down 6 percent, while Eastern’s enrollment was down 40 percent alone at the same time.

Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, Institutional Repository Librarian Todd Bruns, and Rebecca Throneburg, communication and disorders and sciences professor, listen to Michael Dobbs’ presentation on enrollment in Illinois’ higher education. The presenation showed that, on average, from 2006-2016 enrollment in Illinois universities was down 6 percent, while Eastern’s enrollment was down 40 percent alone at the same time.

Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, Institutional Repository Librarian Todd Bruns, and Rebecca Throneburg, communication and disorders and sciences professor, listen to Michael Dobbs’ presentation on enrollment in Illinois’ higher education. The presenation showed that, on average, from 2006-2016 enrollment in Illinois universities was down 6 percent, while Eastern’s enrollment was down 40 percent alone at the same time.

Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, Institutional Repository Librarian Todd Bruns, and Rebecca Throneburg, communication and disorders and sciences professor, listen to Michael Dobbs’ presentation on enrollment in Illinois’ higher education. The presenation showed that, on average, from 2006-2016 enrollment in Illinois universities was down 6 percent, while Eastern’s enrollment was down 40 percent alone at the same time.

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

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Management professor Michael Dobbs presented research on enrollment trends in higher education, showing that while Eastern’s enrollment went down, other universities’ in Illinois went up, at Friday’s meeting of the Workgroup Review Committee.

The committee also looked at proposals for new programs such as ones in social work and agriculture.

Dobbs showed the committee different graphs he had worked on with colleagues about the state of Illinois higher education after the recent budget impasse.

One graph showed fall enrollment trends from 2006-2016.

Though Eastern’s had fallen by 40 percent, other universities’ enrollment has stayed the same and some have increased.

“Unfortunately, there have been times when I’ve heard, in various meetings and press releases and things, that people have said ‘well, the whole state is down. All institutions’ enrollments are down,’” Dobbs said. “I just want this committee to know that that’s not the case. Half the universities over the same period had increased enrollment.”

He said it is important for people to know these enrollment trends so Eastern can learn from the past and continue to improve.

“I think it’s important for (the Workgroup Committee) to know, also we as an institution need to acknowledge this, and acknowledge our own culpability,” Dobbs said. “That’s the only way we can adjust the changes that we need to make.”

Dobbs also looked at the generational trends involved with going to a university.

He found that future generations are statistically not as likely to go to college at the same rate as this generation, which will lead to a massive drop in enrollment in the future.

Before this drop though, Dobbs found with the trends that there is expected to be a slight increase over the next few years in enrollment, which means there is a chance for Eastern to bounce back, he said.

“The good news is, there’s not going to be a big drop off for the next couple of years. I view this as an opportunity for us at Eastern to correct some things (and) get our ducks in a row, because we have a chance,” Dobbs said. “Things are stabilizing as far as the number of 18-year-olds graduating and wanting to go to college.”

With that in mind, the committee explored the program proposals from Workgroup no. 8, with priority being placed on programs that could be added without many financial resources.

Although the committee was told not to worry about the financial side of proposals, Stephen Lucas, the interim associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, warned the committee that extra resources might not be feasible over the next couple of years.

“For near term stuff, it’s zero net change in budget. So, I would say the three-five year thing is reordering current priorities, shifting focus (and) shifting resources. (Eastern is) trying to build a reserve so we can get through a year with no state budget. That’s a big climb,” Lucas said. “I’m all for dreaming, but don’t bring extra money into the next three to five years, it’s not going to happen. Talk about reorganizing or shifting what we have now into more relevant programming or something like that.”

Some program proposals the committee decided would work within a small budget for the next few years were a major in social work and an agriculture program that would focus on business, sustainability or economics.

Rebecca Throneburg, a communication disorders and sciences professor, said both program proposals would hopefully give Eastern some uniqueness and help bring in new students, while at the same time not requiring too many new courses or faculty.

The agriculture proposal interested Student Body President Luke Young, as he said many students would be drawn to Eastern with the addition of an agricultural component.

“I’ve had people tell me that if Eastern had even something minor to do with agriculture, they would have come here, because, they’re from here,” Young said.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]