GC to decrease enrollment

Jenna Ross

In her first semester at the General College, Shelley Guthrie gave birth to a child and earned a 3.0 grade point average.

Guthrie, now a sociology senior, said the General College’s support system led to her current success; she is graduating after four years and is applying to law school.

She said she takes offense at the University decreasing the General College’s enrollment from 875 to 800 students over the next three years. Each year the college will decrease its enrollment by 25 students.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of those 25 refused,” Guthrie said.

The General College is the only college admitting first-year students that is decreasing enrollment for the next school year.

Fewer enrollees will increase the quality of education for General College students who often come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, said Craig Swan, vice provost of undergraduate education.

“It’s a balance,” Swan said. “We match the number of students to our ability to provide them with a quality education.”

Swan said focusing on fewer students will help the college increase retention rates. Students who enter the General College transfer to another University college to receive a degree.

College deans and faculty meet with the University’s administration and the admissions office to set enrollment targets each year.

Swan said General College Dean David Taylor and the regents have been talking about reducing the college’s enrollment for at least a year.

“This didn’t happen yesterday,” Swan said.

Colleges must evaluate their resources and available space when making decisions about enrollment, General College Associate Dean Avelino Mills-Novoa said.

“The entire University is struggling with space issues,” Mills-Novoa said. “We’re kind of landlocked here.”

While the General College decreases its enrollment size, the University will increase its total enrollment target from 5,200 to 5,300 for the 2004-05 school year.

The College of Liberal Arts plans to increase its first-year student class by 100 students, a move that accounts for the University’s total enrollment increase, said Wayne Sigler, Office of Admissions director.

The College of Biological Sciences and the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences will both increase their first-year student enrollment by fewer than 25 students.

While Sigler said the Carlson School of Management is looking to increase in size, the school’s officials said that change would be in two to four years.

Swan said colleges are constantly evaluating and adjusting the number of students they admit.

“We’re looking four to five years in advance.”

Faculty have input throughout this process, Sigler said.

Some General College staff said they disagree with the college decreasing enrollment.

“I have seen huge successes here in GC,” said Susan Warfield, academic adviser in the college. “It breaks my heart that some of these students might not be given that opportunity.”

General College professor Irene Duranczyk agreed.

“We provide for students who are inadequately prepared, not because of their own lack of ability, but because of other socioeconomic factors,” Duranczyk said. “We should continue to service that part of the community.”

The college is getting smaller so other colleges can get larger, Duranczyk said.

Swan said the relationship between college sizes is not that simple.

“Our cap is a soft cap rather than a hard cap,” Swan said. “We don’t necessarily move mechanically.”