Jan 272004
 
Authors: Christiana Nelson

Following a year of record student enrollment, CSU plans to keep

current enrollment numbers constant to balance state budget

reductions and faculty cuts.

“We’re not thinking about reducing the number of students, but

we don’t want the number of students to grow much more than it

already has,” said Provost/Academic Vice President Peter

Nicholls.

Last fall CSU’s enrollment hit a record of 25,042 students,

while state budget cuts caused the university to eliminate 280

staff positions, including 70 vacant and 67 occupied faculty

positions.

In 2002-2003 the increase in the number of students and the

decline in faculty members caused 17 percent of CSU classes to

exceed 50 students, surpassing the state average of 11 percent.

CSU officials worry that a continued increase in class sizes

will lessen the quality of learning.

“Our class sizes have increased quite a bit and they are bigger

than some of our peer institutions because we don’t have the

necessary professors and teachers,” Nicholls said. “We don’t want

to increase enrollment any more if we can avoid it.”

In 2003, CSU admitted 3,802 new freshmen and 1,625 transfer

students and will strive to maintain similar numbers in the

future.

Erin Scheidecker, a junior apparel design and merchandising

major, believes that smaller class sizes are important and said

they have increased her educational experience at CSU.

“Smaller class sizes are better for learning because you have

more of a chance to interact with the teacher and get involved in

discussion,” Scheidecker said. “When you have 700 people in a

class, you really can’t get involved.”

In order to maintain steady enrollment numbers, Nicholls said

that the university will begin enforcing admission standards more

rigorously in fall 2004, including enforcing mathematics holds for

transfer students.

“Every year we look at students’ academic records and are

sensitive to diversity issues and what the students can contribute

to the campus,” Nicholls said. “This year we will be even a little

more careful with admissions to be very sure that we don’t overtax

the institution’s resources.”

Student applicants are evaluated on an index that creates an

index score based on standardized test scores and a student’s

GPA.

“With the freshman class we first look at all enrollments on a

101 index or higher, for the students with scores below 101 we will

be a little more careful about admitting them,” Nicholls said. “We

are allowed to go as low as 91, but we have gone nowhere near that

index in the past, and I don’t suppose that we will.”

Despite the index method of evaluating student applicants,

Nicholls emphasized that index numbers are not the only admissions

criteria.

“We don’t just look at test scores or index scores, we look at

the full application, there are many different aspects of the

student application and we try to be fair,” he said.

Jim Ippolito, an assistant professor of soil and crop sciences,

believes curbing future enrollment will preserve class sizes, but

he is skeptical that CSU’s situation would worsen by permitting

additional students in the future.

“Some of the classes are already saturated, so that any more

students wouldn’t really make a difference,” Ippolito said. “It is

similar to a plateau model – sooner or later it will just reach the

maximum quality of learning for the number of students

enrolled.”

Steve Nackman, a freshman open option major, realizes the

benefits maintaining current enrollment numbers, but he believes

the university should uphold one stipulation for students.

“Limiting enrollment could lead to better grades and better test

scores for students, but if (CSU) doesn’t have to they shouldn’t

raise tuition,” Nackman said.

Yet, even after the 9.3 percent increase this school year,

Nicholls said students should be prepared for future tuition

increases.

“(Tuition) is certain to rise,” Nicholls said. “It is a long

approval process, so we don’t know how much it will go up, but it

is all just a piece towards balancing the budget.”

Regardless of state budget cuts, Nicholls emphasized that

students can continue to expect a high quality education from

CSU.

“We have over 25,000 students and we’ve been dealing with budget

issues and we’ve still been able to manage and to provide a high

quality of learning,” Nicholls said. “We want to maintain that high

quality of learning so we are going to try to keep the university

at about the same size.”

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