Thursday, January 15, 2015

More Enrollment Shenanigans: More Untruthfulness from Our Administration

During the five-plus years he and his cronies have blighted this university, Wayne Watson and his administration have advanced a number of false narratives in support of his failed presidency. Given the looming enrollment debacle for Spring 2015, Angela Henderson recently articulated the latest iteration of bullshit that steadily emanates from the Cook building. Here it is:

On Tuesday, in two separate meetings I attended, she made the assertion that our average enrollment decline from Fall to Spring numbers around 800 students. In front of the Faculty Senate, she took this assertion in a ridiculous direction, claiming that even though that morning’s enrollment figure—632 fewer students than ultimately registered for the previous Spring semester—was “pretty good” compared to our average loss of 800 students between Fall and Spring.

Of course, our intrepid administrators often forget that a documentary record frequently exists to expose their falsehoods. In this case, it is the audit reports on the Illinois Auditor General’s web site. These reports reveal enrollment data for Chicago State University for each semester since Fall 2004. Thus, ten years of information exists against which we can test Henderson’s claims. That data reveals their falsity and also demonstrates a previously unexplored dimension of Wayne Watson’s epic enrollment failure.

First, the average enrollment decline from Fall to Spring semester for the past 10 years (20 semesters from Fall 2004 through Spring 2014) is 355.3 students per year. Enrollment from Fall to Spring has declined in all of those school years (2004-05 through 2013-14) with the range being a low of 182 students in 2009-10 to a high of 620 students in 2011-12. So any claim that we lose an average of 800 students per school year between Fall and Spring semesters is either pathetically uninformed or intentionally deceptive. Is it really possible for the Provost of a university to be that ill-informed about her school's enrollment trends?

The enrollment data also exposes a troubling trend in our enrollment travails. In the pre-Watson days, enrollment always declined from Fall to Spring. However, enrollment in the subsequent Fall semester always exceeded the same year’s Spring enrollment. If this is confusing, here are the figures: Spring 2005 enrollment: 6643, Fall 2005: 7131, a gain of 488; Spring 2006: 6654, Fall 2006: 7035, a gain of 381; Spring 2007: 6548, Fall 2007: 6810, a gain of 262; Spring 2008: 6544; Fall: 6820, a gain of 276; Spring 2009: 6388, Fall 2009: 7235, a gain of 847. This makes the average Spring to Fall change in enrollment (pre-Watson) an increase of 450.8 students per year.

Under Wayne Watson, that pattern has changed. After his first year, when enrollment rose by 309 students between Spring 2010 and Fall 2010, his tenure has been marred by steady enrollment declines from Spring to Fall. Here are Wayne Watson’s numbers: Spring 2010: 7053, Fall 2010: 7362, a gain of 309; Spring 2011: 7165, Fall 2011: 6882, a decrease of 283; Spring 2012: 6262, Fall 2012: 6107, a decrease of 155; Spring 2013: 5821, Fall 2013: 5701, a decrease of 120; Spring 2014: 5297, Fall 2014: 5211, a decrease of 86. The average Spring-Fall change in enrollment under Watson’s regime: a decrease of 66.6 students each year. As a result of this new pattern, Chicago State University under Wayne Watson’s leadership has experienced eight (8) consecutive semesters of enrollment declines. Not just from Fall to Fall, but from Fall to Spring and from Spring to Fall. Just let that sink in for a minute. Chicago State has not had an enrollment increase of any kind in any semester since Fall 2010! What do we expect for Spring 2015? At this point, we can only hope that our enrollment will inch its way up to the anemic total of 5,000. Here is a table detailing the enrollments since 2004-05:

Of course, in early December, our administrators were talking about an enrollment goal of 5597 students, which would have been an unprecedented increase of 300 from the Fall semester. Maybe someone should have consulted the historical trend data before coming up with that ludicrous figure. Right now, it looks like we will struggle to hold the next decline to under 5 percent.

In addition, I wonder if the comparative figures we are getting are accurate. The January 13, 2014 enrollment report I received on January 13, 2014 shows the enrollment at 4968. The January 13, 2015 enrollment report, which compares the total on that date with the previous year’s total enrollment, shows a January 13, 2014 enrollment of 4772. Why does that matter? The January 13, 2015 daily report shows our enrollment down by 107 students or 2 percent from the previous year. However, substituting the numbers distributed in 2014 for the 2014 numbers included in this year’s report changes our position significantly. Instead of being down 107 students, we are down 303 students. Instead of a percentage drop of 2 percent from the previous year, substituting the numbers released in 2014 increases the decline to 6.1 percent. To illustrate, here are the two different enrollment reports:

During the presidential campaign of 2000, the moronic George W. Bush used the term “funny math” to disparage some of Al Gore’s claims. It looks like here at Chicago State we have developed our own version of “funny math.” We use it to fool the rubes.


  1. Are you trying to avoid the charge of cyber-bullying by using the euphemism 'untruthfulness' instead of the more to the point 'lies"?

  2. Holy GWB math Batman! How could any problem be addressed when the data that should drive the decision making is always suspect? That this administration has not learned that it is being watched all the time and lie after deception after misrepresentation is being documented, astonishes me. What is more astonishing is that the bored trustees continue to blissfully allow the disintegration of the university.