Enrollment numbers taking a semester off record pace

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Around this time last year Missouri Western saw record enrollment numbers, but this year those numbers are likely to level off.

Jeanne Daffron, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said that over the last three years Western has had an 18 percent increase in enrollment numbers.

Official numbers for 2011 will be available on Sept. 27. It looks like Western will not see record numbers this year.

“Maybe a few students above or below, but I think we will be right about where we were last year,” Daffron said.

Western has two main sources of revenue, one being state appropriations which have been cut over the last few years. This year Western took an 8.2 percent cut. The other major source of revenue for the institution is tuition and fees.

There is real cost involved when enrollment numbers increase. Daffron explains that Western can increase transfer students more easily than freshmen students. Transfer students are likely to take sophomore, junior and senior level classes. There is more room in those courses. When incoming freshmen numbers grow it creates more dollars for Western, but also creates a need for additional staff. If a class is full and there are students who still need that class, it means adding another section.

“When numbers have grown we have had to hire new faculty or adjunct faculty members, so there is real cost to having additional students,” Daffron said.

Vice President for Financial Planning & Administration Melvin Klinkner said if enrollment numbers stay around the same this year Western will be just fine.

“If enrollment stays the same, that’s what we budgeted for; if it gets flat, we’re fine,” Klinkner said. “If it went up, we would have a little on the positive side and that would be great too, but if it gets flat we are fine. That’s what we budgeted for.”

What administration and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon look closely at is how revenues are coming in and what they look like. In January of 2012 Governor Jay Nixon puts his budget before the legislature No one is expecting an increase.

“Right now it is kind of mixed signals: revenues are up, individual income taxes are down which will impact sales taxes because if people are not working, they are not out buying, but once we get through September and October particularly, they will start seeing a trend and that is how Gov. Jay Nixon builds his budget,” Klinkner said.

Budget cuts due to hard economic times will lead to more tuition hikes resulting from decreased state appropriations. Students at Western are struggling as it is and some seem to think that cutting administration salaries would be some kind of solution. Cuts need to be made, but Western senior Kristi Kerns has an idea she feels is more reasonable.

Kerns is majoring in elementary education and points out that cuts should be made in more than one area.

“I would cut a little from multiple programs and spread it all around instead of cutting one specific program,” Kerns said.

Wherever these cuts are made they will have an impact on everyone involved, but cuts are certainly inevitable.

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