OPS discusses enrollment cuts

By Jami Peterson

The Committee on Organization, Productivity and Salaries (OPS) discussed reducing enrollment to shrink a possible $2.6 million hole in next year’s budget.

NIU President John La Tourette formed the 14-member OPS committee to deal with budget reductions. The committee’s goal is to generate a salary increment pool to enable NIU to give employees no more than a 4.25 percent raise by July 1993, the end of next fiscal year.

Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, said the university would have to gather about $2.9 million to give a 4.25 percent pay hike for all employees.

La Tourette said if NIU reduces enrollment by about 1100 students to a target number of 17,400 students, it will draw out the money needed. “We’re certainly going to have to put academic affairs’ feet to the fire to do this,” he said.

Student tuition is generating only 33 cents on the dollar for instruction now, he said.

“We will hold at about 17,400 (students) as long as the state revenue picture doesn’t change,” La Tourette said. A significant amount of improvement will not be seen until FY 94, he said.

Student Association President Preston Came said many professors told him students entering NIU will not graduate within four years. Students are paying more for the extra years they are enrolled, he said.

Therefore, Came said, students should be hit up front with a tuition increase. The extra funds would help students get the classes they need, he said.

“You’re getting (students) one way or the other,” Came said. “It’s more honest to do it the first way (with a tuition increase),” he said.

“I have to be in disagreement,” La Tourette said.

Institutional Research Director Nicholas Noe said only about half of the students who graduate from NIU do so in four years. “Historically, a lot of students who go to Northern don’t graduate in four years,” he said. “It seems to me a lot of the reason (for this) is student choice.”

Noe said 80 percent of all NIU students in 1970 took 15 or more credit hours. Now, only about 50 percent of all students take 15 or more credit hours. Noe said he believes many NIU students only take 12-15 hours because they work part-time and on weekends.

However, Doug Moore, OPS member and NIU’s chief accountant, said he believes students are taking less hours because they are not able to get the classes they need to graduate.

Matthew Wetstein, a member of the University Resources Advisory Committee, said “the classes students are having trouble getting into are not in (their majors), but in getting those general education (classes) under their belts.”

However, University Council Executive Secretary J. Carroll Moody said part of the problem is that “students don’t like unpopular hours.”

La Tourette said the most important way to save money would be to eliminate unnecessary classes. “It’s time to really look at curriculum and decide what’s essential and what isn’t,” he said. “If everything is a sacred cow, we’re not going to find any money.”

College of Business Dean Richard Brown said programs with only a few students should be consolidated.