On Tuesday, Oct. 26, the Faculty Senate held their biweekly meeting. The main items of importance for this meeting were two presentations about campus enrollment and a campus budget update, from Victoria Livingston and Paige Smith, respectively.
Livingston gave her presentation on enrollment rates first. She stated that there has been a 10.1% decrease in enrollment between the Fall 2020 semester and the Fall 2021 semester. This information comes from the IR Tenth Day Enrollment report. She also stated that retention rates for first year students is also down, from 76% to 74% from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, which she attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. This accounts for approximately 286 students who have not returned to campus or have withdrawn.
Livingston went on to offer a few likely reasons for the decline in the enrollment of new freshmen. These reasons included restricted campus visits and a lack of residence hall tours due to the pandemic. Livingston did mention, however, that there was an increase in applications for fall 2021, likely due to the waived application fee and the increase in use of e-applications. This increase in applications did not seem to affect the campus yield rate or number of students who enrolled at UW-Platteville after acceptance.
When looking at increasing enrollment, Livingston stated that yield rate was the most important aspect of recruitment. She mentioned that the university is using multiple tactics to increase yield rates and enrollment rates, including more in-person visits, one-on-one follow-ups, more texting campaigns and more multicultural outreach.
One Faculty Senate member asked Livingston why students who were choosing between UW-Platteville and another institution were more often choosing the other institution. The two main factors that she mentioned were academic strength and affordability.
Next, Paige Smith gave her presentation of the campus budget update for Fall 2021 as well as projected budget numbers for Fall 2022. Smith’s first piece of information was the total budget for the campus for Fall 2021, coming out to $176 million in all funds, which is down by $6.1 million since July 1, 2018.
Smith reported, “Based on our current enrollment data, as well as the expenditures and the budget plans for FY22, for this year we will exceed our revenues by approximately $5-6 million.”
Smith stated, however, that the campus has a history of underspending, which could be helpful in reducing that deficit.
Smith mentioned COVID-19 expenses next. UW-Platteville received $30 million in allocations to handle the pandemic on the campus. The projected amount of remaining funds is about $900,000. These additional funds, after being used for their intended purpose, would likely be used to address the previously mentioned deficit.
Finally, Smith discussed the campus goals for the 2023 budget. Their main goals are to create more accurate projections, make more strategic and intentional hiring decisions, identify priorities and goals and consider ways to increase revenues on all levels. One strategy that Smith mentioned to help aid in these efforts is having three budget planners on campus to assist campus offices and departments with their budget paperwork.
Finally, when asked why the projections are always so different from the final numbers at the end of the year, Smith said that “the institution is an extremely complex system,” and that their goal of better budget predictions is high on their list of priorities.