Enrollment task forces established

By Julia Martinez

DeKALB | President Doug Baker has formed four task forces to look at enrollment for freshmen, transfer students, adult learners and online learners.

Baker said enrollment was unacceptable this fall during a University Council meeting 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Holmes Student Center, Sky Room.

“One area we can affect our budget is in enrollment,” Baker said. “The good news is our retention rate is up again, and the bad news is our freshmen and transfer numbers are down.”

Enrollment fell by about 5 percent for this semester to about 19,000, with the largest decline being in the freshman class. Transfer and graduate student enrollment also saw a major decline, according to a Sep. 8 Northern Star article.

Baker said the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management is working on recruiting freshmen despite sinking graduation rates, but the department alone can’t resolve the enrollment decline.

Baker formed the task forces to work better with high schools and community colleges in hopes of recruiting more students and reversing the enrollment decline.

NIU also partnered with Rockford Rock Valley College to offer an engineering bachelor’s degree program on the Rock Valley College campus. In return, the college has named NIU its preferred provider.

“I thought I would just say a few words about the budget, and the few words are that there is not a lot that has changed in the state level,” Baker said. “We are in a bit of a holding pattern, and I think as the elections come up upon us, and from what I can tell, there’s not a lot going on with policies, so vote the way you think will help the state the best.”

NIU received $48.3 million from the state, which is 53 percent of its Fiscal Year 2017 budget. NIU is working with state lawmakers to get the other half, Baker said.

Ombudsperson Sarah Klaper gave updates about the state of NIU’s budget. The Office of Ombudsperson provides students, faculty and staff with confidential guidance on personal and university-related issues.

“Budget is a huge concern, and I would even label this as a crisis,” Klaper said. “What I see with people coming to my office is that people are very frustrated, because people come see me and say we have great things going on, and yet the state of Illinois is thwarting us because we cannot get anything approved.”