This is the second issue of the Chancellor's Update for 2016-2017. My intent is to regularly share important district initiatives as well as programs, proposals, accomplishments, and issues that are relevant to you all. If there are topics that you would like to learn more about, please let me know. Feel free to contact me at (714) 480-7450 or at email@example.com.
As fall classes have begun, there is much conversation around how the colleges are doing with enrollment. People have approached me on this subject wondering where our colleges stand this year as compared to last year and what our enrollment numbers mean to the district and the colleges.
One of the consistent truths about community colleges for as long as most of us can remember is that growth is the name of the game. It has almost always been in the best interests of a college or a district to pursue growth in enrollment. Our budget models and our enrollment management strategies are built on an assumption of continual growth. Of course, California is a state of drastic economic swings, which has a profound effect on enrollment.
The current era may be different from the past for several reasons. The extended economic recession that we just went through was much longer and deeper than all of the previous recessions. During that period, the state forced us to cut enrollment at an unprecedented level such that it has been difficult to rebuild that lost enrollment. As a result, we have not been able to garner new funds that could have been added to our base funding as a result of enrollment growth. It is estimated that we could have netted approximately six million dollars in new funding if we could have captured or exceeded our growth targets over the last several years. That is a lot of money to leave on the table.
The truth is everyone has worked diligently to bring our enrollment numbers up. I sincerely appreciate the due diligence of everyone - faculty, administrators, managers, and staff - who contributed to many innovative efforts to boost enrollment. From faculty helping to ensure that more students get classes they need to online marketing efforts such as Pandora and Facebook ads, to tireless efforts of our college outreach teams, to outstanding customer service to new students through college welcome programs and face-to-face interaction, it has all been necessary as we try to increase enrollment. Nevertheless, increasing enrollment continues to be a challenge. The fact is that the economy is better and more people are getting jobs and not coming to community colleges.
What is worse, the state has now capped the enrollment growth of every community college district in the state. Every district has a different enrollment growth cap based on a formula. Our district did not come out well in that formula as our current cap is at .60 percent. We are probably not going to make that target, but if we did, it would be a positive development. However, if we grew beyond that level, we would not get reimbursed for that extra growth. The imposition of this cap signals a new reality for community colleges and takes away a significant tool for districts to augment their budget to meet increasing fiscal demands.
Despite the wonderful teamwork of countless people districtwide, the enrollment growth at both colleges is slightly below what it was last year at this time. The numbers change on a daily basis at this point so I'm not going to quote any specific numbers. There is still a good possibility that we can at least do what we did last year and potentially do a little better. I know the academic administrators and faculty at both colleges continue to work hard to adjust the schedule to attempt to maximize the number of students we serve this semester and we appreciate everyone's efforts in supporting the increased workload that this entails.
As we continue to face the challenges of enrollment, it will take all of us working together to do the best we can under the circumstances that we confront. Your efforts and dedication to enrollment growth and retention are deeply appreciated.
Introduction of Dr. Rose to the Community
Since the start of the semester, I have enjoyed accompanying Dr. Rose to do "meet and greet" visits to local organizations, including the Santa Ana City Council, the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, and Los Amigos of Orange County, among others. Dr. Rose has received a warm and friendly reception everywhere she has gone. I look forward to working with Dr. Rose as she leads Santa Ana College into this new chapter of its history.
All the best,