NIU launches campaign to recruit students

By Brian Slupski

NIU is trying aggressively to recruit new students to combat a decline in enrollment which is affecting most of the public universities in the state.

Associate Director of Admissions Bob Burk said NIU will keep admissions open at least through the spring in the hopes that applications increase.

“We’ve been aggressive in our recruiting. We’ve been out to the high schools and we’ve mailed out more material to prospective students,” Burk said.

Even though NIU has been recruiting, enrollment applications for Fall 1993 are down by about 10 percent.

NIU had been restricting enrollment for several years, but it was supposed to stabilize at last year’s figure. However, NIU’s enrollment has continued to decline beyond the planned reduction.

Burk said NIU’s previous enrollment restrictions have had some effect on this year’s decline, but he said a major reason was a drop in high school graduates.

“The bottom of the curve (in high school graduates) was supposed to have been last year,” Burk said. However, high school graduation rates also have continued to decline.

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said high school graduation projections for the next 10 years do not look promising.

“There does not appear to be a coming major upturn in high school graduation rates,” Moody said. “We will have to try as best we can to match enrollment to our resources.”

Moody said the economy might be another reason enrollment is down all over the state. He said with the recession and the sluggish recovery, more students might be living at home, working and going to community colleges.

One possible way to get enrollment up would be for NIU to lower its admission requirements.

Burk said this is not a good option because the requirements are set at the minimum level students need to succeed at NIU. He said it wouldn’t make sense for NIU to lower their requirements and then have more students flunking out.

The enrollment decline has impacted housing services. Applications to live in the residence halls are down by 680 applicants. The enrollment and housing shortages have generated some talk about closing a residence hall.

NIU student Regent John Butler said he thinks NIU should close down one of the residence halls.

NIU President John La Tourette has said the partial closing of a residence hall might be considered for next year in an attempt to keep room and board rates in check.

At Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting at Illinois State University in Normal, a $160 room and board rate increase was approved to deal with the declining occupancy and increased costs of the residence halls.

Moody said the option of closing a residence hall should be carefully considered. He said once a residence hall is decommissioned, the university must decide what to do with it. He said if it were converted into an administrative building, there would be cost that would have to be considered.