Faculty senators met with University Presidentand Provost during the first President’s Academic Advisory Group (PAAG) meeting of the semester, when top university officials met with the senate to discuss issues and seek suggestions.
Barbara Melzer, faculty senate chair, brought up several instances where she heard among faculty there was a decrease in enrollment this fall. Melzer said she has only seen fall enrollment numbers for freshmen and transfer students, not including retention rates.
Trauth said enrollment figures are not finalized until Sept. 13, but predicts the number will be approximately 200 students more than last year’s total. She has also heard enrollment is down.
“We’re used to having so many additional students, so when (enrollment) is only 200 students (higher) it looks like (enrollment is) down,” Trauth said.
The overall enrollment of the university depends heavily upon retention rates, Trauth said. She said every year when university officials discuss the topic of retention they also discuss how to better improve certain services so students can graduate.
One particular area of improvement that has been discussed is veteran retention rates, Trauth said. She said veterans have a “significantly lower retention rate than the general population.”
Veterans are one group of students that are at-risk of low retention rates, Trauth said. The general retention is between 78 and 79 percent, and the retention rate for veterans is 55 percent.
“I am not picking on them, but veterans have significant problems they bring with them,” Trauth said. “Particularly when we talk about veterans who have been in war situations. Most of the young people coming in have been in multiple deployments.”
Trauth said she has asked Bourgeois and Joanne Smith, vice president for student affairs, to focus veteran services on retention-related activities.
Bourgeois said there are approximately 1,700 veterans on campus.
Several faculty senators said they noticed smaller classes during the summer session due to financial aid suspension.
Bourgeois said there was no difference between this year’s and last year’s financial aid cycle appeal process. He was expecting double the number of students appealing for financial aid.
Another problem with financial aid was the decrease of Pell Grants during the summer sessions, Trauth said. In the past students were able to carry their grant money into the summer session, but this year they could not because the regulation changed. Trauth said it had a significant impact on summer enrollment.
Bourgeois said the numbers for Pell Grants were staggering. He said in the summer of 2011 the number of students with Pell Grants was approximately 2,000. The number fell to fewer than 500 during the 2012 summer session. Bourgeois said this is an issue happening all over the country.