Students are back at classes and the head count is in.
At the SUNY Fredonia Common Council meeting Wednesday, Vice President for Student Affairs David Herman said enrollment is down slightly.
The final total came in at 5,545 students; 5,251 undergraduates and 294 graduate students, a decrease of 185 students from 2011 or 3.2 percent.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
The SUNY Fredonia College Council discussed enrollment at its meeting Wednesday. Pictured (from right) are President Virginia Horvath, Vice President of Student Affairs David Herman, Vice President of Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns and Vice President of Administration Karen Porpiglia.
Herman explained this number easily exceeds the SUNY budgeted annual target of 5,215 students but there are several factors which contributed to the decrease from last year.
"For the last several years the western New York high school population has been declining. You see it on the news where schools are learning they have surplus space and that's expected to continue for several more years. We've also graduated two large classes, both in the last two years ... This has led to a whole series of things that we are going to have to address but we were aware this was going to be a difficult year," he explained.
He said also the economy plays a factor and students believing it is not worth it to go to college; however, statistics show unemployment rates are lowest for those with a four-year liberal arts degree.
Herman said a large portion of the decrease at SUNY Fredonia was in education.
"This is from this media blitz that there are no teaching jobs. It's not true. ... All of our math education students last year got employment. Many of our students get employment in the Sunbelt. We have 50 teachers that we know of that got positions in Texas. We know that in the five year career projection there will be a lot of teachers retiring around the country. ... so this is a great time to go to school for education because when you graduate its going to be much better," he explained.
However, Herman said there is hope to regain the former numbers with increased numbers of international students and increased efforts to recruit students farther away.
He said the campus will welcome around 200 HUFS students from South Korea in the spring, a number which is expected to grow to about 300 by 2014.
Another helping hand in this will come from new initiatives to attract students in areas like science with the construction of the new science center.
Herman said the completion of construction will also help in attracting more prospective students.
Herman explained to combat the problem with the decline in population in the local area, the college is increasing its presence farther away in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and further downstate through radio and online advertising.
The number of college fairs SUNY Fredonia will attend this school year has increased 25 percent to 136.
The next meeting of the college council will be held Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. in the president's conference room in Fenton Hall. The public is welcome to attend the meeting and the council encouraged the public to participate in the many events hosted on campus, information for which can be found at www.fredonia.edu.
In other business:
The college officially closed the books on the 2011-12 budget. Vice President of Administration Karen Porpiglia said the department is anticipating some changes from the state for the 2013-14 budget.
Porpiglia also reported this to be the final year of the campus' five-year capital plan. She said the governor's creation of the New York State Worker's Task Force and its goal to change the way capital money is spent means the next capital plan may be a very different process.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns reported new appointments of faculty and staff. President Virginia Horvath said the number of total faculty is almost the same as it was before the major cuts; however, it may not be in the same areas of study.
The council welcomed new member Richard Alexander. Alexander is currently the president and chief consultant of Alexander and Associates, a business development and management company, and has previously been the director of Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. and the department for planning and development at the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.
The council also voted in support of nominating Dennis Hefner as President Emeritus when he becomes eligible.