Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Enrollment down

Enrollment has declined at Western once again. This time, it's down by 5.3% to 24,841. Still, the consensus seems to be that there will be a turnaround next year, thanks in part to the firing of Judy Bailey and the completion of construction on campus.

Haenicke said, "Everybody now has to say, 'How can I help you?' -- not 'What do you want?' It's taking hold much more quickly than I thought it would. There's lots more smiling faces. Right now, I think we are beginning to serve students very well.''

Beacon and others said the change in campus morale is palpable. Beacon refers to "a new sense of optimism.'' Rosana Alsaud, chairwoman of the Graduate Student Advisory Committee, says momentum has shifted in a positive direction.

"I think students are actually beginning to become excited again,'' said Amanda Grove, a WMU senior and president of the Western Student Association. "They think the university is on the right track, with the provost and president being gone. It doesn't make us look very stable, but I think we have the right interim people in there.''

Haenicke and Beacon predict enrollment will turn around by next fall.

"Next year will be entirely different,'' Haenicke said. "It's a given.''
I have to agree that the mood on campus has improved. I can't say that I'm sad about the decline in enrollment, though. When enrollment was around 29,000, parking was practically impossible. Sometimes you would have to park in a completely different part of campus or just keep driving around until someone left. Enrollment around 25,000 leaves more room for everyone.

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