By now, it seems apparent that for Chicago State, the political considerations of keeping this administration in power trump all other factors. No scandal is sufficient to move anyone in the state to action, save to ensure that the Watson disaster continues. As the Fall semester comes to a conclusion, we are again looking ahead to the Spring. What will our enrollment be? Here are the administration’s goals for Chicago State’s spring enrollment. I think they reflect several things: no one can tell the truth to the president; these goals are not rooted in any historical reality or trend data and reflect a tenuous grip on reality; our upper-level administrators simply do not know what they are doing.
You might recall that for Fall 2014, the administration created “metrics” that set the goal of a 3 percent increase in enrollment from Fall 2013 (5701 to 5872). The administration based this “metric” on nothing, since there is no record of any administration headed by Wayne Watson ever achieving such an enrollment increase and since there was apparently no actual data suggesting that such an increase was possible. Of course, we know how that all worked out—enrollment declined 8.6 percent to 5211.
Undaunted by past failures, the administration has outdone itself in its goals for Spring 2015. It has decided that we should be able to reach 5597 students, an increase of 7.4 percent over Fall 2014 and a 5.7 percent increase over Spring 2014. Imagine working for a group of people who insist on setting goals that are capricious and ultimately grounded in nothing. Our administrators can simply decide that in spite of data demonstrating that spring enrollments decline, we can increase our enrollment by a figure unparallelled in the history of Wayne Watson’s “leadership.” My sympathy goes out to the poor persons who have to develop the ridiculous scenarios to meet those stupid goals.
Here is the trend data for the past three years (all figures for spring are unofficial, they come from Provost Council minutes):
Fall 2011 enrollment: 6882. Spring 2012 enrollment: 6262, a decrease of 9 percent.
Fall 2012 enrollment: 6107. Spring 2013 enrollment: 5769, a decrease of 5.5 percent.
Fall 2013 enrollment 5701. Spring 2014 enrollment: 5297, a decrease of 7.1 percent.
Therefore, with our Fall 2014 enrollment standing at 5211, a more reasonable projection would be a Spring enrollment around 4850 (a 7 percent decline).
The administration’s figures demonstrate how fanciful these “goals” are. First, of the 5211 students enrolled for Fall 2014, 365 have apparently applied for graduation and another 164 have withdrawn from the university, decreasing the total to 4682. In addition, nearly 500 current students have bursar holds, a percentage will not be returning for Spring. Finally, there is no way at this point to determine the number of students who will be dropped for poor scholarship at the conclusion of the Fall semester. Thus, we only have 4682 students available to return in the Spring of 100 percent of our current students return. What do you think the likelihood of that is?
So, if all our current students return for the next semester, we only have to attract 915 new students to Chicago State to reach the administration’s 5597 figure. In reality, we will probably need closer to 1200 (assuming that at least 300 students will leave school for various reasons). As of December 8, we had admitted 86 new students and our total enrollment stood at 212 fewer than the same date a year ago, a decrease of 9 percent. Although I am no math whiz, it seems likely that we will experience a decline in student enrollment rather than the heady increase sought by our administrators.
So what is our administration’s strategy for addressing this problem? I understand that at the recent propaganda rally held by the administration that our naked emperor said that if everyone at Chicago State brought in one student, our enrollment would be fine. Really, that is the administration’s best solution? There are several persons responsible for dealing with enrollment issues making hefty salaries and they come up with that?
Recently, Cheri Sidney told Chicago State’s hopeless Board of Trustees that the administration was still “right-sizing” the university. The administration’s inept and hapless efforts to devise strategies to combat our enrollment decline belie that assertion. No one will tell Wayne Watson that he is the problem, that his administration has taken the school to the precipice. No one in the state will step in and save the school from this group. Frankly, this seems to be the result desired by a range of persons with the ability to correct the situation. Thus, we go through this bizarre dance every semester so that Watson can be placated and continue to play president and reward his friends and cronies with lucre.
Recent events have demonstrated the power of the political forces supporting this president and his administration. No one outside the judicial system seems willing to hold Wayne Watson and his cronies accountable for their behavior. However, the most important resource Chicago State possesses—our students—are obviously weighing in on the issue. They are leaving this school in droves. I think our enrollment will decline to below 5000 next semester. Ultimately, of course, no one really cares. What do you think?