Between the lack of abundant parking spaces and masses of students walking around the University of La Verne, one might assume that an increase in enrollment has occurred. To the contrary, the fall semester opened under the projected number of undergraduate students.
Homa Shabahang, vice president of enrollment, said that the University was expecting 351 new freshmen, 158 transfer students and 1,140 continuing traditional, undergraduate students.
In actuality, this number fell short by 112 students, bringing the total number of traditional undergraduate students to 1,537 instead of the originally projected 1,649.
This missed target of 112 students’ tuition is setting the school back roughly $600,000.
The University builds its projected budget based on its targeted tuition forecast. Consequently, the shortfall is causing limited cutbacks in University budgets.
While the undergraduate sector fell short, the College of Law this semester has exceeded its targeted 346 student enrollment, with 355 matriculated students.
The master’s program enrollment numbers are still incomplete for the College of Business and Organizational Management, given its flexible semester start times. Although the numbers will not be evaluated until later this month, they may have a chance of exceeding projected budgetary figures, according to Shabahang.
Other fall 2008 graduate numbers are reported. The projected master’s unit count for Arts and Sciences was 760; the actual fall 2008 enrollment unit count exceeded that number at 814. Education and Organizational Leadership projected a unit count target of 4,700. The actual count fell short at 4,456.
Comparisons in the doctoral program in the Clinical-Community Psychology Program indicated that the fall enrollment of 82 students exceeded last year’s enrollment of 68 students.
In the Doctor of Public Administration program, 96 students are enrolled fall 2008, compared to 95 in fall 2007.
And in the doctoral program in Organizational Leadership, 123 students are enrolled this fall, compared to 155 students in 2007.
Shabahang lists ULV’s strengths as its excellent academic programs, remarkable teachers, 117 years of steadfast quality instruction, diversity, customer friendly service, student friendly University community, safe location in Los Angeles County and strong alumni bond, among others.
Despite these advantages, the University of La Verne is a quality private school among nationally renowned private and state schools. La Verne, she said, needs to uphold its end in the competitive reputation market.
“ULV does not have as much name recognition outside the University as we deserve to have,” Shabahang said. “We’ve had trouble creating a name that reaches farther away from home.”
Shabahang said that ULV has a 117-year history that has produced more than 50,000 alumni. So the question is not how to improve the school’s structure, but how to improve its image and reputation.
In order to attract more high school students, ULV is initiating the “100 mile” campaign. The objective is to recruit prospective students closer to the University, through high schools and community colcolleges, Shabahang said.
“We need to market ULV as a first choice school,” Chris Krzak, dean of admissions said.
The University will still be marketed to far flung locations, but the primary focus will be to neighboring towns.
Another notable reason that Shabahang cites as a problem that could detour students is the outdated financial aid packaging policy. According to a student survey initiated by ASULV, the policy itself needs improvement, not just the office of financial aid.
One of Shabahang’s many improved marketing plans is to make sure that money is awarded most effectively to help students who are interested in ULV.
Since the school is down $600,000 from the enrollment inconsistency, budget cuts will be made. Making up for lost revenue is not a new exercise for the school; every year this number fluctuates, so it is merely a matter of organizing budget to compensate.
According to Shabahang, the academic deans and the provost will analyze areas to save expenditures and to make necessary changes.
The good news is that despite the financial cutbacks to compensate for the lost $600,000, the cost of tuition and the levels of the academic programs will not deviate from the norm.
“We never want to cut any form of programs or impose on the students,” President Stephen Morgan said.
Morgan explains that the budget will be repaired by exercises such as minding electricity or regulating the frequency of janitors in the summer.
Another undeniable factor in the low enrollment is due to the state of the economy, and how it can sway prospective students away from private schools in favor of more affordable state schools or community colleges.
“The economy will cause us to look carefully at tuition,” Morgan said.
In 2008, ULV offered a 37.29 percent discount rate on tuition.
In response to the falling enrollment and subsequent loss in revenue, the Office of Admissions is launching more than 30 initiatives this year for recruiting and retaining traditional undergrad students.
One initiative will include modifying www.ulv.edu to an up-to-date interactive Web site for the school. The site has been criticized as outdated in comparison to ULV’s competitor schools, Krzak said.
“The infusion of technology is vital in recruitment,” Shabahang said. “The brand new portal will immediately allow interaction with the school by talking with key people or seeing how the admissions process is going.”
According to Krzak, additional initiatives include telecommunications to prospective students, updated mail campaigns and brochures, transfer student brochures and improved phone and e-mail blasts.
The University recently created a position of associate director of transfer admissions, headed by Mike Delgado. This initiative will seek community college students, Krzak said.
Lesley Michaels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.