CUPB hears enrollment, facilities update

Cassie Buchman, Editor-in-Chief

The Council on University Planning and Budgeting heard an update on enrollment and facilities at its last meeting of the spring semester last Friday.


Though he has seen increasingly positive momentum regarding this year’s freshman class, Josh Norman, associate vice president for enrollment management, said he does not feel comfortable speculating the overall number at this point.

This is because there are still many prospective students who are still in the financial aid verification process, which affects them getting their aid package.

At a federal level, they are verifying twice as many students as they did last year because of an issue in the verification algorithm, Norman said.

“We went from 30 percent to 60 percent being verified,”Norman said. “By all intents and purposes, that should slow down the enrollment funnel. It is hard to have a conversation with students about committing to the university if they don’t have the full financial aid picture.”

In 10 years, Norman said, he has never seen more than 30 percent of students need to be verified.

“We had 23 faculty and staff working three days straight to call this 1600, 1800 students,” he said. “We called every one of these students in hopes of getting in touch with them and personally walking them through the process, and if not, leaving them a message saying, ‘hey, you can make an appointment with financial aid.’”

This is an unprecedented issue, Norman added.

“This process is a nightmare for 0 (Expected Family Contribution) and first-generation students, (because)  they’re just trying to figure out, ‘how do I overcome this obstacle?’” he said.

In addition, the undergraduate international population continues to see unpredictable trends in the visa approval process.

“There’s so much fluctuation going on, for me to say ‘this is our hard undergraduate number,’ I don’t feel comfortable doing that at this point,” Norman said.


Tim Zimmer, director of facilities planning and management, said facilities staffing was increased temporarily in multiple areas to help with project and maintenance needs.

Some status employees were recalled to pick up temporary extra help and a couple of retirees were also called in.

Campus projects are being completed or are in the process or being completed, Zimmer said.

He said the design on the Lantz Gym South Concourse area is complete, and facilities is doing a final review on that and it will go out on bids.

Zimmer said he expects this project to be done by December commencement.

Completed projects include the Tarble Arts Center addition, the Coleman bathroom repairs, repairs to the men’s and women’s restrooms in the Student Services Building and an enhancement to the Office of Admissions area.

While these projects are done at a university level, others require Capital Development funds, in which the money does not pass through the campus directly.

These funds go through to the state to the Capital Development Board, who hire the architects, engineers and contractors.

For these projects, facilities has a list it sends to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, along with all of the other state public universities. The IBHE compiles this list, prioritizes it, then sends it to the General Assembly for approval, Zimmer said.

Included in this list is the planning and construction of a new science building for Eastern. This project is currently sitting at number eight on the IBHE higher education capital improvement provisional priority list. The new building would cost $117,027.6.

Regarding a question on how facilities would handle the physical side of the upcoming reorganization of the university’s colleges and departments, Zimmer said facilities has ways to upgrade building service workers to movers.

Zimmer said he will be working with the provost’s office on what needs to be done with the restructuring.

Provost Jay Gatrell said “minimal moving” would be involved with the reorganization.

This movement would be the establishment of a dean’s office in Klehm Hall, a few people moving from Lumpkin to Klehm Hall and vice versa, and nursing coming from McAfee, Gatrell said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]