Group to address growth

Joe Lord

Two campus government bodies are combining efforts to help Western tackle one of its fastest growing problems.

University Senate and Student Government Association will form a committee this semester to address Western’s enrollment issues.

They’ll make recommendations on how the university should handle its enrollment growth and look at possible remedies for the future, Senate president Doug Smith said.

The provost’s office has been responsible up to this point for making recommendations about handling enrollment, said Luther Hughes, associate vice president for enrollment management.

The committee will start meeting once all nine positions are filled, Smith said. He expects that could happen as early as today’s senate meeting.

SGA President Jamie Sears said her organization called on President Gary Ransdell to appoint an enrollment task force last semester.

Faculty had the same idea, Smith said. In their December meeting, the senate added a “friendly” amendment to SGA’s legislation.

After a Jan. 15 meeting between Ransdell, Sears and Smith, it was decided to combine the committee-forming efforts.

Ransdell said the move to appointing a committee came after the SGA resolution.

Hughes said he expects the committee will have a full plate once it convenes.

“There are so many pluses and minuses,” he said. “This committee will go through all the … pros and cons and come up with a recommendation for the university to be sent to the president.”

He said such options as enrollment caps may be considered for future use by Western.

There are 2,000 more Western students than two years ago, Hughes said.

He said that figure translates into greater costs for the university or bigger class sizes for students — a tough choice in rough economic times.

Three students and three faculty members will sit on the committee, Ransdell said.

He said he suggested three administrators — Hughes; Jim Flynn, assistant to the provost for planning; and Registrar Freida Eggleton — to University Senate as possible committee members.

Smith said he is open to adding staff representatives to the committee.

Staff Council Chair Elizabeth Paris said her group is interested in having representation on the committee, but at this time no one has been asked to join.

She said staff members who work in academic departments may have strong input about enrollment issues.

“If they wanted us to have a staff member on the committee, we’d be more than willing to supply someone,” she said. “But I haven’t heard from anybody.”

Ransdell said the committee may focus on Western’s long term enrollment needs, using the fall 2004 enrollment as its starting point.

“I think they need to be looking to the next three to five years,” he said.

Sears said she will make her appointments by week’s end.

Her preference for the committee will lean toward underclassmen, she said.

“I would rather get someone on there that can continue to work rather than someone who is going to graduate,” Sears said.

Smith would like faculty members from different colleges to serve on the committee, he said. He would also give preference to faculty members in departments that are feeling the effects of enrollment growth the most.

“That’s my goal,” Smith said. “To try to be as inclusive as possible.”

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]