MATTOON -- Lake Land College's student enrollment this fall is down by 2.8 percent compared to fall 2016 as many other Illinois community colleges also report decreases.
The Lake Land Board of Trustees heard this figure on Monday as part of the fall 10th day enrollment report, which did note increases in credit hour and headcount enrollment for some student demographics. They also heard that trustee Robert Luther, a former president of Lake Land, has resigned from the board for health reasons and that applications will be taken for a new trustee to serve until the April 2019 election.
Enrollment figures showed that total headcount decreased from 5,107 students in fall 2016 to 4,966 this fall. This total does not include enrollment in Illinois Department of Corrections education programs. Full-time equivalent credit hour enrollment decreased by 1.9 percent from 3,214.8 in fall 2016 to 3,153.3 this fall.
Tina Stovall, vice president for student services, said the state bases its funding allocations to Lake Land based on credit hour enrollment and the college bases its budget projections on these figures.
Stovall said the Illinois Community College Board has received 10th day reports for 22 colleges so far this fall and these figures show that only McHenry County College in Crystal Lake has seen its credit hour enrollment increase, by 4.5 percent. She said only two other colleges reported credit hour enrollment decreases that were less than Lake Land's figures.
"We are all challenged, all of Illinois is," Stovall said.
The 10th day report showed that Lake Land's enrollment has decreased from 5,931 students in fall 2013.
Trustee Gary Cadwell said there may be a growing national trend of high school graduates not pursuing higher education because they are afraid of accumulating heavy debt without being able to get a job. Locally, Lake Lake President Josh Bullock said manufacturers are seeking highly skilled applications for industrial maintenance jobs, but students are not training for these jobs because they have misconceptions about factory work.
Board Secretary Ann Deters said she knows that community colleges and universities in Illinois have declining enrollment, but she does not want to accept that trend for Lake Land.
"How can we get those numbers up? I think we need to push ourselves further," Deters said of looking at other options for student recruitment.
Regarding Lake Land's scholarships for top high school graduates, trustee Mike Sullivan said he wants the college step up recruitment of other graduates. He said Lake Land should show them that it is working in partnership with area employers to find jobs for them.
The 10th day report did show that the number of credit hours taken by workforce training and other non-transfer students has increased slightly, by 0.7 percent, to 1,470.4 this fall. The report also showed that enrollment of high school students taking dual credit courses through Lake Land increased by 22 percent to 1,111 this fall.
In other matters, Chairman Dave Storm said applications to fill Luther's post are due to Lake Land by Sept. 29. He said the board will vote on an applicant at the Oct. 9 meeting, and the new trustees will be seated at the Nov. 13 meeting. He said applicants must be at least 18 and Lake Land district residents. He said the applications should include their qualifications and their reasons for seeking a trustee position.
Luther, a Mattoon resident, served a full six-year term on the Lake Land board and was re-elected on April 4. He previously served from 1988 to 2006 as the college’s president.