Monday, August 22, 2016

Carter not accepting excuses for FAMU’s continuing enrollment decline

FAMU’s enrollment in Fall 2015 dropped to 9,920 (down from 10,233 in Fall 2014) under President Elmira Mangum. The university expects to lose another 920 students in 2016-2017.

In her self-evaluation for 2015-2016, Mangum suggested that the enrollment decline was needed in order to make sure FAMU has students who can help it do well on the performance metrics of the Florida Board of Governors (BOG).

“Moving to a culture focused on student success and college readiness rather than the size of enrollment was an important change and undertaking that reinforces and demonstrates recognition of state and national trends for accountability,” Mangum wrote. “Significant progress was made as evidenced by our improvement scores on the [State University System of Florida] established performance metrics and movement into the top eight of the performance funding ranking.”

But FAMU Trustee Matt Carter, who helped set up the BOG’s performance metrics system while he was a member of that board, isn’t accepting excuses for the continuing enrollment decline.

“The president has not implemented a successful external relations strategy nor made things happen to achieve a competitive advantage for FAMU. An effective strategy has not been effectively communicated to all FAMU stakeholders by the president. Anecdotally, while FAMU's enrollment has fallen and expected to fall further, North Carolina A&T, Delaware State, Virginia State and Bethune Cookman have experienced tremendous growth in enrollment,” Carter wrote in his 2015-2016 evaluation of Mangum.

Enrollments at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) all across the nation were hurt by overhaul of the federal financial aid program in 2011. But North Carolina A&T University (NCA&T) Chancellor Harold Martin reversed his university’s enrollment decline with strong classes of freshmen students. The freshman, first-time student classes that he enrolled in Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 both had 3.28 average GPAs in high school.

Delaware State University didn’t have an enrollment decline after immediately after 2011. President Harry Williams, who was appointed to lead the school in 2009, has been getting the job done in the area of recruiting freshmen with solid GPAs. He enrolled a freshman class with a 3.0 average GPA in Fall 2013 and another freshman class with a 3.08 average GPA in Fall 2014.

“That makes the record enrollment particularly satisfying,” Williams said in a 2014 press release. “As the student population continues to increase, the academic quality of our new freshmen continues to rise as well.”

DSU’s enrollment slipped from 4,644 in Fall 2014 to 4,560 in Fall 2015. The average GPA for the latest freshman class hasn’t been posted on its official website.

Virginia State announced that it will finally reverse its fall enrollment decline with a projected five percent increase for Fall 2016. It hasn’t posted the average GPA for its incoming freshman class.

Bethune-Cookman University reversed its enrollment decline in Fall 2013 with 3,787 students and a 2.82 average freshman GPA. Enrollment went up to 4,045 in Fall 2014 with a 2.91 average freshman GPA. It slipped to 3,831 in Fall 2015 with a 2.94 average freshman GPA.

FAMU trustees had been told as of the June 9 committee meetings that performance funds would be used to cover the projected $10M loss in tuition and fees due to an expected decline in enrollment for 2016-2017.

“The good news is that FAMU received performance funding this year, the bad news is a major portion of those performance dollars will be used to pay for the holes in the budget from the loss of enrollment,” Carter wrote in his evaluation of Mangum.

Most of the “marks of excellence” that FAMU received on the Florida Board of Governors performance-funding metrics for the 2014-2015 year were actually based on data or work from the 2013-2014 year. Mangum began her contract on April 1, 2014 with about four months to go before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2014. None of the excellence areas or improvement areas required a decline in enrollment to accomplish.

FAMU received marks of excellence in the following categories:
    Percent of graduates employed full-time or continuing their education [2013-2014]
    Bachelor’s degrees awarded within programs of strategic emphasis (includes STEM) [Down 1.5 percent in 2014-2015 under Mangum]
    University access rate (percent of undergraduates with a Pell Grant) [Fall 2014 students recruited in 2013-2014 or retained from that year]
    Percent of funding from external sources (research and development expenditures) [2013-2014]
FAMU received improvement ratings in the following areas:
    Median wages of bachelor’s graduates employed full-time in Florida [2013-2014]
    Academic progress rate (second-year retention with GPA above 2.0)
    Graduate degrees awarded within programs of strategic emphasis

Read the Florida Board of Governors summary report on the performance-funding metrics results here. 

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