"We're doing great!" said Bob Hannigan, vice provost for enrollment Management, two weeks away from census. Census is the snapshot of fall '97 FTE and head count required by the system and used by statewide and national educational groups as well. Hannigan's estimate is that the number of students will increase by 300 to 14,219, up 2 percent from the 12,700 of fall '96. The FTE will stand between 12,700 and 12,800, a 3 percent increase from last fall.
"I thought it would be difficult to achieve significant increase in the first year [of our enrollment drive]," said Hannigan. "It takes time to rebuild the infrastructure of a program and time to develop consistent contact with potential enrollees. We were working within a three-year plan. We have taken a giant step ahead."
The increase places the campus, explained Hannigan, in a very good position for the next round of budget negotiations that President Esteban will have with the chancellor's staff. Chico State has exceeded our assigned goal for '98-'99, which means two things: (1) instructional resources are helping generate higher FTE than we are funded to teach; and (2) the president can ask for more, based on this fall's enrollment, than the 12,700 FTE assigned for next year.
"Whether we get it or not is another question, as there will be many universities in the same position. It puts us among them, however. When our enrollment was down, we were not in a position to even ask for increased funding. Hopefully, we will receive some of what we ask for, which will allow us to continue program improvements which, in turn, contributes to increases in enrollment," Hannigan said.
The increases are attributable, said Hannigan, to reorganization and innovations in the entire enrollment process. Specifically, however, Hannigan points to (1) a 6 percent increase in first-time freshman applications resulting in a larger freshman class; (2) a higher rate of enrollment of transfer students in some categories; (3) great cooperation in many academic departments in helping with communication efforts to applicants; (4) a better job of placing students into more complete schedules through offering an adequate number of sections and eliminating time conflicts; (5) a letter from the vice president of student affairs sent to parents of first-time freshman, addressing their concerns and presenting the benefits of CSU, Chico.
The enrollment picture can only get better, said Hannigan, as we continue to put in place a plan that greatly increases our communication with potential students and allows us, rather than being primarily concerned with finding and recruiting eligible applicants, eventually, to shift resources to providing better service in advising and orientation. That will, in turn, improve retention.