Wickert discusses positive enrollment trends with senators

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert discussed the increased enrollment numbers and positive trends during the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year Sept. 12.

The overall student body of 30,177 was about 300 more students than the May projection, which was used to develop the institutional budget.

"We are positive in variance in terms of the budget enrollment, which is great to see after multiple years of decline since 2016," Wickert said.

He said one of the strongest indicators is the direct-from-high-school enrollees which climbed to 5,859, a 15% increase compared to 2020. Wickert said it indicates strength heading into future years. He also said the junior class is larger than last year's and the sophomore class rebounded a year ago.

"When we see our freshman class rebound for three years, our sophomores for two and the juniors this year that bodes well for the future," Wickert said.

The first-year retention rate of 87.5% is consistent with the trend over the past decade.

Graduate enrollment also increased by 116 students and international enrollment improved by 275 students over last year. Students are coming from a significantly broader number of countries compared to three years ago, he said.

Wickert also praised the faculty for their nimbleness in moving classes online after a fire at the power plant Aug. 24 affected building cooling systems.

"The ability to pivot quickly really did make the difference in having continuity in teaching our students," he said. "If there is any kind of silver lining with the pandemic, it's that everyone has become better in teaching virtually."

Other business

At their October meeting, senators will vote on:

  • A proposed name change to the department of geological and atmospheric sciences, to the department of earth, atmosphere and climate. The change makes clearer to students, funding agencies and stakeholders what the department focuses on and follows a national trend at universities. The change was supported by department faculty 16-3.
  • Proposed name changes to three majors in the art and visual culture department. The changes are intended to make the majors more easily identifiable and discoverable to students. The changes would be:
    • Bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in integrated studio arts to BFA in art
    • Bachelor of arts (BA) in art and design (art and culture option) to BA in art
    • BA in art and design (visual culture studies option) to BA in art history
  • Adding an academic advisor as a non-voting member to the academic standards and admissions committee to ensure all proposals have input from an academic advisor. The proposed bylaw change would help reduce unintended negative consequences from new policies regarding degree audits, graduation timing, registration and other areas.
  • Proposed changes to the schedule change policy. They would include adding definitions to schedule change terms, clarifying the time periods for periods 2 and 3 and define and provide criteria for approving out of term schedule changes.

Senators approved:

  • A change to scholastic recognition for undergraduates by discontinuing the Top 2 Percent and creating a President's List honor. The list recognizes students with at least 24 credit hours or satisfactory-fail courses and a 4.0 GPA for their two most recent semesters at the university (excluding summer sessions).
  • Adding a course waitlist policy to the university catalog beginning in March 2024 (as students register for fall 2024 classes) to coincide with additional functions in Workday Student. Students are added to the waitlist on a first-come, first-served basis. If a seat becomes open, the first student on the list will be notified and has 24 hours to act. Students can join a waitlist and accept or decline a seat through the fifth business day of the fall and spring semesters.