For the second straight year, Slippery Rock University witnessed a reduction in enrollment, a theme that has been consistent across all PASSHE schools.
According to the Post-Gazette, in the past 14 years, the State System enrollment has raised 28 percent, which is an increase from 93,711 to 119,513 students. This year, SRU enrolled 1.5 percent less students, which is 130 students, compared to the previous year.
Declining enrollment means that students and faculty member may have to work in larger class sizes in the future.
Dr. Katherine Cooklin, a philosophy professor, worked as APSCUF’s vice president since May. She talked about what our school can prepare for if this pattern continues.
“We need to try to deliver services as soon as possible, but we need to keep in mind that the most important service here is education,” Cooklin said. “I think that the public higher education is one of the common wealth’s best assets, and it needs to remain a funding priority.”
Student fees, tuition and state funds are the largest foundations of State System revenue. The estimated tuition and fee cost for a Pa. resident is $8,748. If that number is multiplied by the 130 students that did not enroll this year, the total is more than one million dollars.
Cooklin believes this loss of revenue will not drastically affect the university because of the quality of education that SRU has to offer.
“I think that we have an excellent faculty that connects with the students through mentoring to basically get a rock solid education,” Cooklin said. “That’s what’s available to all students. Those who are all of the factors in a constellation that leads to higher quality education. Maintaining those standards and getting the word out are to be had at SRU and will attract and retain students.”
APSCUF’s Secretary Judy Silva, a performing arts librarian and archives, believes the loss of revenue will encourage the university to create a larger student to professor ratio.
“I don’t think the pattern will create more cuts because SRU has excellent programs and will attract students,” Silva said. “However, I do think the class size is an issue.”
Silva helped out at the WOW weekend program and talked to the new students and parents.
“They all agreed that class size was an issue,” Silva said. “The university thinks we just need to enroll more students, but we can’t just grow our way out of the problem.”
According to U.S. News, SRU has about 8,000 students enrolled and a student-faculty ratio of 20-1. Whereas, IUP has about 12,000 students enrolled and an 18-1 ratio.
Silva believes that faculty members can keep doing what they’re doing. However, their workload will increase as their class size gets bigger.
“APSCUF cares about quality education,” Silva said. “Students who are enthusiastic about their education will attract more students. That’s why you need to focus on quality education.”
In addition, students can become an orientation ambassador and/or a FYRST Seminar leader to help new students help students become adjusted to the campus.
In the meantime, Silva maintains the library.
“At the library, we support research,” Silva said. “It is part of keeping that quality education.”