CARBONDALE — The president of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Faculty Senate says a rumor about next year’s anticipated freshman enrollment is inaccurate.
At a Graduate and Professional Student Council meeting on March 6, GPSC President Johnathan Flowers announced that university projections place fall 2018 freshman enrollment between 870 and 970 students. The decline would leave a $4 million hole in the university’s budget, Flowers claimed.
In a phone interview with The Southern, Flowers said the information came from a Faculty Senate Executive Committee meeting with the chancellor.
“I have it on good authority from people in that meeting … that this is straight from the chancellor’s mouth and it was co-signed by Associate Provost (David) DiLalla,” Flowers said.
The Faculty Senate Executive Council consists of the body’s four officers, its past president and five chairs.
Faculty Senate President Kathie Chwalisz, professor of psychology, said the figures cited by Flowers comprise one of several estimates provided at the Executive Council meeting.
“We did get some preliminary numbers, but they also were just estimates, and there were estimates that were much larger, too. So that number was a conservative number, but I don’t think it’s anything official,” Chwalisz said.
The estimates were provided by the university’s enrollment management office and are partially based on housing contracts. The university does not currently have a director in that office, Chwalisz noted.
“Anybody who’s making those estimates is just making those estimates based on their piece of the puzzle, but right now we don’t have anybody who, that’s their career,” she said.
Freshman enrollment in fall 2017 was 2,126, a decline of 19.19 percent compared to the fall of 2016. The chancellor has publicly stated that fall 2018 enrollment could sink below 1,000.
“(The 870-970 estimate) is an alarming estimate and it’s a sad estimate, but I think some of the other people in that office had estimated 1,100 or 1,200,” Chwalisz said.
Chwalisz also denied Flowers’ claims that deans have been asked to prepare 2, 4 and 6 percent reductions to their areas. She said the chancellor reported at the Executive Council meeting that he hasn’t asked anyone to prepare for budget cuts.
“The fact that any report would come out of that meeting is a little strange, and that the authority would be Johnathan Flowers and the GPSC,” Chwalisz said.
Rae Goldsmith, SIU’s chief marketing and communications officer, said in an email that the university had “nothing to share” on projected freshman enrollment.
The next full Faculty Senate meeting will be held Tuesday, March 20.