UA's enrollment decreaseblamed on national trends

By Trigie Ealey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 5, 1996

The University of Arizona's enrollment drop is being blamed on a variety of factors, including national trends of students staying at home.

In a presentation to the UA Faculty Senate yesterday, Jerome Lucido, assistant vice president of enrollment services, said an enrollment headcount of 33,504 - a drop of 1,273 students from last year - is partially because of a more aggressive recruitment policy at Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. ASU had its enrollment increase of what is thought to be Phoenix-area students choosing to stay at home.

"More students are staying at home in Maricopa County," he said. "It is also due to efforts to reduce the mix of resident and non-resident students as directed by the Arizona Board of Regents."

Lucido said part-time enrollment increased, leading to a drop of 1,312 full-time equivalents from last year for a total of 29,727. He said the university has four groups looking into the drop in enrollment areas of recruitment, advising, full-time enrollments and graduate students.

"Is it money, is it the economy?" he said. "Is it the fact that students are working more? Have we gone as far as we can with loans to students? Are loans the way to go?"

Sen. Eugene Levy, dean of the College of Science, said the faculty needs to become more active in recruitment.

"We need to become more engaged in this issue," he said. "This body needs to take this on and encourage other faculty to go out to the high schools."

Lucido said he supported the idea of more outreach to high school students as well as additional efforts to retain students once they are at the university.

"Students need to be able to have a connection on campus," he said.

In other action, the Senate approved the committee on women's studies change of status from a program to a department.

While it was ranked by an external review in 1992 among the top 15 women's studies programs in the country, debate in the Senate centered around the strength of women's studies. The unit had the support of the Provost's Manage-ment Group, Dean's Council and the Undergraduate Council/Instruction and Curriculum Policy Committee, but not the support of the Graduate Council.

Sen. Raphael Gruener, director of interdisciplinary graduate programs and physiology professor, said the program may not need departmental status.

"It already has every-thing," he said. "It is strongly interdisciplinary. The na-ture of it seems to argue against departmental status."

Ann Weekes, chair of the Undergraduate Council/ICPC, said women's studies needs departmental status to retain and attract new faculty.

"Faculty don't want to be hired to a unit when a department exists elsewhere," said Weekes, also director of the humanities program.

Women's studies, in existence at the UA for 21 years, has offered an undergraduate major and minor since the 1980s. There is also a graduate program.

Sen. Richard Poss, a senior lecturer in the College of Humanities, said the change requested was in the title, since funding and faculty would not change.

"For the department to offer women's studies as a major and not a department says something about university support," he said. "There are advantages to being a department."

The unit will have its departmental status request forwarded to the Arizona Board of Regents.

The Senate also heard a report on the future of the UA from the university's Strategic Planning and Budget Committee. The presentation by Joaquin Ruiz, chairman of the com-mittee, detailed some factors the university needs to con-sider to better plan its future.

Although there has been concern about enrollment figures, Ruiz said it was important to consider other aspects of the drop.

"We need to also consider what the optimal size of the university should be," he said, noting there is a cap on enrollment at 35,000.

He said the quality of undergraduate students and faculty have continued to improve as budget cuts and public confidence in higher education has dropped.

Reasons behind these statistics and what the university does about it will be important to the future of the university, he said.

"The questions facing the university can only be answered by a dialogue with the university as a whole," he said.

Ruiz asked faculty for input on what can be done to improve the long-term future of the university.