While increasing enrollment numbers is essential to Texas State’s expansion and longevity, it will compromise current students and departments around campus if the university does not improve its poor growth management.
Though it has not yet been officially announced or confirmed, Texas State will see its largest freshman class to date this fall, if enrollment figures follow the trend of recent years. Additionally, Texas State received the fourth-highest amount of applications among the state’s public universities this fall, according to a Sept. 10 University Star article. The editorial board is thrilled by the growing number of students who are interested in Texas State, as reflected by the number of applications received this fall. However, admissions standards need to be raised if the university wishes to increase its credibility.
According to a March 21 University Star article, Michael Heintze, associate vice president for enrollment management, said enrollment should not grow by more than 5 percent this fall. Official fall enrollment numbers have not yet been confirmed, so it is unclear whether that guideline was adhered to. An enrollment cap is likely a measure the university is not willing to take at this time, so the 5 percent growth limit is a parameter that should be followed closely.
More students being admitted to Texas State means more revenue for the school. While this may be good for the university’s bottom line, a growing student population has already caused a seemingly endless list of conflicts at Texas State.
The university is overcrowded as it is without factoring another record-high freshman class into the equation. Texas State is looking to increase prestige by adding more Ph.D. and master’s degree programs, but it currently cannot accommodate students in existing majors like engineering, music and health professions.
Construction plans were halted when legislators could not agree on a bill to authorize bonds for new facilities before the 83rd legislative session ended this summer. Texas State administrators had requested $83 million for the construction of an engineering and science building on the main campus. The university also requested approximately $50 million for the construction of medical education and research buildings at the Round Rock campus.
The construction of these new buildings is imperative. The health professions building is at full capacity, and a new science and engineering building would have allowed the implementation of two new baccalaureate engineering degrees and growth of the biology department. Additionally, a new music building is needed to house a growing number of students who are forced to play their instruments outside because of limited space in the current facility.
Both space and funding are needed to construct additional buildings to properly accommodate students, neither of which the university has. Along with a lack of space, growing enrollment numbers have strained some of the resources students rely on most.
For example, the Counseling Center is currently struggling to meet the needs of the growing student population and had to turn away a total of 1,700 students during the 2011-2012 academic year because of a space and manpower deficit. In addition, the University Police Department has been historically understaffed and could have trouble handling a crisis situation if one arose.
Texas State could not have handled growth management more poorly, and how administrators choose to approach the situation in the future is a serious concern. Finding the balance between admitting enough new students to meet budgetary obligations and providing the necessary resources for current ones will be a difficult and intricate challenge. Unfortunately, it is one administrators need to solve quickly.