Growth Article #4

This is the article that I just submitted this afternoon for publication in this week’s issue of the Cooper Point Journal. I’m not certain whether it will get published or not based on the response from the Journal’s editorial staff, but they said they would make every effort to give me some space in the issue. Here’s hoping.

Dispelling Enrollment Growth Myths
Peter Ellis

There are a number of misconceptions amongst the student body regarding the work of the Enrollment Growth DTF. I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the more glaring ones.

First: the myth that this college has a choice to grow or not grow. In fact, with the construction of Seminar II, the College accepted the condition set upon it by the state Legislature that the population of the College would expand to 5,000 students by the 2014-15 academic year. This growth will not be all at once, for fear of diluting the student population and core values of the College, in addition to putting undue stress on College support offices. Rather, this growth will be spread out across the next ten years.

Second: all growth does not have to (and likely will not) take place solely on the Olympia campus. Concerns regarding the utilization of space across all campuses are fully justified, though the impact of these proposals on space utilization is currently unknown. Several proposals exist to expand the offerings of Tribal and Tacoma programs, as well as expanding the base of Evening/Weekend studies, though the bulk of the proposals focus on expanding Olympia campus offerings.

Third: that this proposed growth lies outside of Evergreen’s usual growth rate. Over the past 20 years, the College has grown an average of 90 FTE per year. FTE stands for Full Time Equivalency, and is the measure by which the State Legislature mandates growth. An undergraduate FTE is actually slightly less than Evergreen’s full-time credit load – 15 credits rather than 16. Graduates, however, have an FTE of 10 credits. One of these FTEs represents a single student taking a full-time credit load. If we apply this rate of growth over the next ten years, the College will reach 5,000 students by the 2014-15 academic year. The role of this DTF is to shape that 90-student-per-year growth in ways consistent with the College’s core values while still providing a workable budget to the College administration.

I realize that this is not a comprehensive list of misconceptions present amongst the student body. The DTF is fully aware that the level of student involvement in its process needs to be addressed. I will be working with the new student representative on the DTF, Rachel Williams, in order to increase the number of opportunities that students have to provide input into the process. As always, however, such opportunities are dependent upon students wanting to be involved in this process. By all means, don’t wait for the DTF to hold conversations with students – have your own conversations. Kick around ideas, express your concerns, then contact me – I want to know what you think.

Peter Ellis serves as a student representative on the Enrollment Growth DTF and Enrollment Coordination Committee.

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