By Leslie Petrovski
Enrollment dominated the discussion at the first Board of Trustees meeting of the academic year on Sept. 6.
Though census numbers for fall aren’t yet final, Judi Diaz Bonacquisti, associate vice president for enrollment management, told the Board that preliminary figures are pointing to an estimated 2 percent FTE shortfall compared to fall 2011.
On the plus side, she said, new student enrollment is up by about 2 percent as is the number of Latino students. Latino students now make up about 19.5 percent of the University’s student body (up from 18.2 percent last year), moving MSU Denver closer to the 25 percent level it needs to achieve the federal designation of a Hispanic Serving Institution.
Students taking advantage of non-resident tuition rate
Bonacquisti reported, too, that after qualifying for the University’s new Colorado High School/GED Non-resident Tuition Rate, 238 students enrolled, including 94 continuing students and 134 new. The students who are taking advantage of the University’s non-resident tuition rate are not included in the institution’s HSI calculations.
Regarding the trustees’ decision in June to offer the non-resident tuition to undocumented students, Board Chair Rob Cohen said, “On behalf of the board, I wanted you to know that we remain committed to the decision we made. We have implemented the process and have heard all the conversation and commentary and we monitor that, but at this time we are proceeding as we decided at the last meeting.”
In her first report to the board, Laura Noe, president of the Student Government Assembly, said the SGA had passed a resolution in support of the non-resident tuition rate and that the assembly would survey MSU Denver students about their knowledge of the new rate and their feelings about it.
Student Trustee Jesse Altum said that he, too, supported the Board’s decision to approve the non-resident rate.
“I want to express my appreciation of those who have been so supportive of this effort,” said President Stephen Jordan. “It’s engendered a local debate and a national debate on an important topic.”
Though the controversy surrounding the decision has been stressful, he said, “I have never felt more personally rewarded. From the support I have felt from faculty, staff and the public to the expression of thanks I’ve received individually from students, who have said how important this is for their future, those emails and other things are appreciated.”
Board votes to approve one-time fund balance distribution
To address budgetary issues driven by lower enrollments, Natalie Lutes, vice president of administration, finance and facilities, recommended holding $800,000 of the remaining State Appropriation fund balance of about $2.7 million rather than distributing it to departments. The board then approved the distribution of the remaining $1.9 million.
Jordan explained that the enrollment picture is murky, complicated by changing student demographics, a recovering economy and a trend among college-bound students to choose out-of-state institutions.
“With white students, we are seeing a declining population and outmigration and more competition for that small pool,” he said. “Regarding students of color, we are holding our own and ahead of other four-year institutions in achieving our fair share of that population. We may need to look at increasing the number of non-resident students from other states without reneging on our commitment to Colorado students. This is something every institution in the country is looking at and something we need to stay on top of.”
In addition to addressing enrollment issues, the president reported that the University would begin working to fill out its neighborhood as defined by the Auraria Campus Master Plan and start the planning process for its third building, slated for Seventh and Auraria Parkway. He also alerted the Board that he was forming an Information Technology Strategic Planning Task Force to build community consensus on updating the institution’s technology platform and organizational structure.
The Center for Innovation, Jordan said, was pursuing a potential partner for its Franchise Ownership Program. And he urged the Board to examine the issue of campus safety relative to the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, which overturned the University of Colorado’s gun ban, effectively legalizing the carrying of guns on campus by people with concealed-carry permits. While higher education boards have no jurisdiction over that ruling, he said, they can prohibit weapons at ticketed events such as plays, concerts and athletic tournaments.
Akbarali Thobhani, interim chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and executive director of the Office of International Studies, reported on a $272,000 U.S. State Department grant from 2010 to create an opportunity for U.S. students to study abroad at a non-traditional destination and work with a foreign institution to develop its capacity to accommodate American students.
This summer Thobhani accompanied 15 students who spent six weeks studying local language, culture and history at Aksum University in Ethiopia, and two weeks touring the country. The University has had an ongoing relationship with Aksum University since 2009.
Jesse Altum, who studied at Aksum University, displayed colorful handcrafts from his Ethiopian travels and gave the board a small, engraved souvenir as a thank you for approving the program.
For more details on the Board of Trustees meeting, consult the Board Meeting Agenda.
Top of Page