Is Enrollment Up or Down?

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 434

Last night, the Chancellor’s office released a rather confusing press release in which they assert that enrollment is both up. And down. Dave Johnson blogged about it last night and dissected the numbers better than I probably could, so if you’re interested I suggest you head over to Deo volente.

What I’m interested in about this press release are these two sentences: “Fall enrollment at Southern Illinois University Carbondale stands at 19,817, due to softening enrollment in graduate programs” and “In graduate programs, new student enrollment stands at 554 or 10.5 percent fewer students than last year.” A ten percent drop. As a graduate student (and assistant) myself, I wonder what caused that. I have a few ideas:

1. Substandard health care
2. High fees/tuition
3. Economic instability in the institution
4. Economic instability in the state
5. A feeling that the faculty they would be coming here to study with won’t be able to devote time to mentoring because they are too busy “doing more with less” (to borrow the Chancellor’s phrase)

So, it sounds like we slowly holding back the creep in undergraduate enrollment — which is good news — but we’re losing the more experienced graduate students who are taking a look at the situation and running for better climates. Pretty scary, especially since there are plenty of small departments that rely on those graduate students/assistants for a large portion of their teaching (especially in the core curriculum). Some of the departments with the biggest load of graduate assistants have that load mostly because of teaching (I’m thinking of the English department and the high number of TAs teaching freshmen comp). The same goes for research intensive departments — a lot of the labor is coming from graduate students/assistants.

For the Southern’s take on it (remarkably similar to the press release):
SIU enrollment drops for sixth straight year
SIU enrollment down 1.1 percent; first-time undergrad numbers up

Upcoming Events:
All ACLU members and supporters are invited to participate in the Southern Illinois Annual Membership Meeting taking place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7th at the Lesar Law Building on the SIU Carbondale campus. The guest speaker for the evening, Rich Whitney, will give a talk entitled “Academic Freedom and Tenure: What Does the Constitution Protect?” Whitney is most known for his run in the 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial races, and was the first Green Party candidate for governor in Illinois history. He currently practices civil rights law in Carbondale, taking on an array of controversial cases and protecting constitutional rights. RSVP today to reserve your spot.
(We have been informed that Chancellor Rita Cheng has been invited, but her attendance has not been confirmed.)

Struggles in Steel: The Fight for Equal Opportunity, over 70 African-American steel workers speak about their struggles for fair treatment during both their 125-year industry as well as after shutdown
A part of the labor film series sponsored by the SIUC Labor Coalition
Sunday September 18, 2pm
Admission is free and family is welcome!

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