Enrollment at Fort Lewis College may be poised to rebound after hitting a decade-long low in fall 2009.
Early projections unveiled at Friday's board of trustees meeting forecast enrollment of 3,756 students in fall 2010, up from 3,685.
We do believe we'll have the bottom point hit and start to move up," said Carol Smith, associate vice president for
The enrollment projection is good news for FLC, which already expects to cut $4.5 million during the next two years
to compensate for lower state funding and other issues. That's about 10 percent of FLC's budget.
FLC has struggled for years with declining enrollment, a trend college officials attribute to stricter admissions
FLC is stepping up its marketing efforts, with ads in Frontier Airlines' in-flight magazine and at Denver
International Airport. College officials are also looking to expand their e-recruiting."
Every year, it ticks up that students have recruited themselves to Fort Lewis College," Smith said.
Smith's data showed increases in high school GPAs, ACT scores and academic index scores for incoming freshmen.
Student retention has also improved.
Smith said prospective students are increasingly considering FLC along with well-regarded private liberal arts
colleges such as Whitman, Carleton and Beloit.
This increase in quality is dramatic," President Brad Bartel said. We fully predicted a drop in enrollment because
of going after a different student body at this institution."
Board member Brian Bissell challenged Smith to double the enrollment increase. FLC has a long-term goal to reach
Smith said she would need more scholarship money to entice admitted students to enroll.
Higher enrollment could also make it easier to raise faculty salaries, an ongoing problem that faculty leaders show
no signs of relenting on.
Charles Riggs, an anthropology professor who serves as faculty representative to the trustees, presented a plan to
increase faculty salaries by 5 percent a year for three years. The 2010-11 budget proposal calls for smaller raises.
Bissell embraced the faculty proposal, but Bartel and board chairman Richard Ballantine cautioned against making
large commitments for future years that the college may not be able to meet given state budget cuts.
To go beyond a year is a very dicey proposition," said Ballantine, who is also publisher of The Durango Herald. It
may lead us somewhere that we just can't manage."
Bartel said it's impossible to know what the state budget climate may look like in future years. He also warned that
it would create considerable divisiveness on campus" if faculty received substantial raises but staff did not.
FLC faculty earn about 89 percent of the national average of their peer group, according to the faculty resolution
Riggs presented. Faculty representatives said low pay threatens to harm faculty retention and morale.
Staying is hard," Riggs said. It's really hard. It's a challenge for a lot of reasons."
Riggs said some of his colleagues are tired of subsidizing FLC's relatively low tuition with below-average salaries.
FLC has made some improvements to faculty pay in recent years, including raises when faculty are promoted from
assistant to associate and then full professor.
Michelle Kenney, student body president, said some students have expressed concern about raising faculty pay while
FLC plans to lay off at least seven employees.
Bissell pledged to keep faculty pay a priority.
I don't think there's anyone around the table today that thinks the status quo for faculty is OK," he said.