Tuesday, March 09, 2010

On Raising Enrollments: A Response to Arthur Hauptman

Over at Inside Higher Ed, Arthur Hauptman wonders why more public higher education systems haven't more systematically tried to raise enrollments during the downturn, rather than capping them and raising tuition. If other SUNY schools are anything like mine, they have been raising enrollments, at least relative to the targets SUNY has established. The point is that we're just about reaching the point where the costs of this strategy start to outweigh the benefits. And if New York state keeps cutting us at the rate and scale they have been of late, we're running out of good or even decent options--fast. We'll muddle through this year and students won't feel the cuts all that much, but something has to give in 2011-2012. That's why I've been so adamant about sounding the alarm lately. Everyone in Albany and across the state needs to face reality and think big about the future of SUNY. We need to debate the fundamental issues, not just ticky-tacky talking points. Let's get to it, people!

[Update 1 (3/10/10, 6:44 am): Our campus is involved in a master planning effort right now, taking a comprehensive look at how we are using our facilities and physical plant and imagining what kinds of learning environments and infrastructures we want to provide for our students. One thing I've already recognized as a result of my limited participation in and knowledge of this process is how little space we have at SUNY Fredonia--whether in classrooms, office space, and student housing--and how we've had to shoehorn ourselves into existing, and in many cases outdated, structures. Without investment in these areas, we simply can't expand enrollments much further.]

[Update 2 (3/15/10, 12:31 pm): Dean Dad offers some more reasons there are built-in limits to raising enrollments.]

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