Residence halls are emptier this fall than they have been for the past two years, and blame falls only partially on a smaller than expected freshman class.
“Not only do we have a smaller freshman class, but we have 50 sophomores and 21 freshmen living in Main Street Commons,” Vice President for Student Affairs Alan Galsky said, “Another factor is how many juniors would have stayed in the residence halls had Main Street not been an option, because St. James is filled.”
Galsky said the incoming class of 1,018 is about 100 students short of the goal, a challenge that the university will face for the next four years.
“The current senior class is also small, as they had about 1,036 freshmen, and the goal was 1,080,” he said. “So whenever you have a class that doesn’t meet enrollment, it’s not a one year problem.”
Galsky said a buffer for this is the current record-breaking sophomore and junior classes, at 1,106 and 1,136 students, respectively.
“The fact of the matter is whether talking about the 2008 class or this freshman class, we thankfully have two record enrollments to go along with them,” he said.
A smaller class also allowed Elmwood Hall to close for restorations.
“One of the things we’ve seen, even last year, was a lot of empty singles,” Galsky said. “The attraction of the singles is not what it once was given we charge more for singles, but they provide less options. We wanted to do some remodeling, so it was better to close Elmwood down for the year instead of housing just a few students.”
Galsky said the most vital next step is intensive recruiting.
“Given all the challenges, the demographics shifting, the economy’s not great, cutbacks in financial challenges, it’s a real challenge. So recruiting students is more difficult than before, he said. “We need a top recruitment person, and it’s a great job for the right person.”
Another concern Galsky has for the university is the financial aid outlook.
“I will tell you that there are signs out there that there may be cuts in the Pell Grant and the MAP Grant, much larger than at other private universities,” he said. “We’d be more greatly affected. And that’s part of the beauty of our campus, is the great economic diversity we have.”
Despite difficulties, budget sacrifices have not been made, Galsky said.
“There are no reductions in the budget at this point,” he said. “But it is absolutely imperative for us, financially and otherwise, that we meet enrollment goals.”