|August 30, 2001
Volume 32 Number 1
|A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico|
In the Open: Enrollment Growth at What Cost
While on vacation this summer in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, I went for a hike up Corn Creek. There was not much of a trail, but the shade and cool air next to a cold-water creek was quite inviting in the otherwise hot and very dry climate. I had traveled only a few hundred yards when I almost stepped on a rather large rattlesnake. It quickly let me know I was in its territory. I took one step back and the intense rattling stopped. With the second step, the snake moved on, leaving the trail available for further exploration. Continuing on the narrow trail, I again was struck by the loud sound of a rattlesnake. This time it was only a foot from my leg, coiled and appearing quite disturbed. I slowly moved back. The rattling lessened but did not cease. With the second step back the rattling stopped, and with the third step the snake moved on. Going back where the first snake and friends might be waiting did not seem like a good option. Continuing forward did not seem all that promising either, so I looked for some open, less brushy space where I could see the ground before me and have some certainty about where I was placing my foot. Fortunately, by traveling a different direction, I could get out in the open, exposed to the hot sun, but able to see where I was going.
Up to this point in my vacation, I had forgotten the university and my job as chair of the Academic Senate,[but something about that experience reminded me of University Politics and the Planning Process?].
The current University Master Plan, approved in 1990, calls for growth up to 14,000 FTE. The university exceeded that figure last year by over 200 FTE and is expected to possibly reach 14,500 or more this year.
The additional enrollment last year brought in approximately 1.2 million additional dollars to the university. Yet, those additional dollars cannot be traced to additional faculty hires or lower faculty/student ratios.
Last year at CSU, Chico, 39 faculty gave notice to enter FERP beginning 20012002. Another 20 faculty retired. CSU, Chico hired 39 new full-time faculty this year. I have been advised by the Provosts Office that a 1,000-student increase in FTE requires an additional 50 full-time faculty. It does not appear that we are keeping pace with the hiring of new f
aculty, especially tenured/tenure track, to meet the increased enrollments. Who are the additional students coming to CSU, Chico? Campus residential housing at CSU, Chico is currently fixed at approximately 1,731, with 1,500 being first-year students. It appears that most first-year students do not attend Chico if they cannot obtain campus residential housing. If the increase in FTE will be transfer or re-entry students, what courses do they want to take? Do we have the professors to teach the courses in demand? Do we have enough computer laboratories? Can the library accommodate the increase? Can CSU, Chico maintain the residential character that has made it so attractive for so many years?
Many of the CSU, Chico buildings and classrooms are old and in need of replacement or remodel. Removal of the Sutter block of portable classrooms will further reduce the classroom space available by approximately 1,228 spaces. There is not sufficient recreational space and/or parking for the current students. Day care for students on campus meets less than 30 percent of current demand, and there is essentially no day care for faculty and staff on campus. Health care, food services, counseling services, and other services are impacted by increased enrollments. Where can the campus grow, how quickly, and at what cost?
Several scenarios from the CSU, Chico FTE Planning Group are under consideration, showing enrollment increasing over the next 10 years to approximately 16,000 FTE. There are no Academic Senate representatives or faculty on the CSU, Chico FTE Planning Group. Enrollment management affects all aspects of the campus and should be the topic of public debate and input from the entire campus community. Shared governance, which is the topic of a CELT presentation on September 20, is the cornerstone of academic policy making. Faculty, students, and staff must all be involved and a part of the decision of should CSU, Chico grow and how much. California law requires that master plan decisions that might have a significant impact on the environment have an Environmental Impact Report prepared. Already traffic on Warner Street and Nord Avenue is at a gridlock during certain times of the day. Many other aspects of campus life and the Chico community will be affected by increased enrollments. Lets begin an open and informed discussion of enrollment growth now, with all of the interested and affected parties involved.
Perhaps some would think it unfortunate that the two snakes missed their opportunity to strike an attorney in the wilderness. Call it professional courtesy (or my knowing the nature of snakes) that I avoided a strike. Once again, I am out in the open, looking forward to another exciting year.
Paul Persons can be reached in the Academic Senate Office at x6201.
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