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May 15, 2010

 

TC3 enrollment outpaces staff growth

5 percent more students will be enrolled next year as state aid cuts choke off hiring at college

TC3Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Instructor Don Perkins works with students in a radio production class Friday morning at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

DRYDEN — The booming enrollment projected for 2010-11 at Tompkins Cortland Community College will not coincide with adding of staff, but college President Carl Haynes is confident the staff can handle the increase.
TC3’s enrollment is projected to grow by 4.6 percent for next year to 4,089 full-time equivalent students. The college has almost doubled in size since the 1997-98 school year.
The high enrollment is powering the college’s budget, as tuition dollars and state aid are tied to the number of students classified as full-time equivalent, Haynes told the college’s trustees during a budget presentation Thursday.
But the staff is not growing. The ratio of students to staff who work with students has risen to 15-1, causing Trustee John Daniels to ask Haynes how the staff is coping.
“If the enrollment is up but the staff is not growing, pretty soon you’ll have a rebellion,” Daniels said.
Trustee Ray Schlather asked if “the quality of product” is better, less or the same. Haynes said students are being educated and helped with issues as much as ever, “but it’s not as clear-cut as measuring an automobile coming off a factory line.”
Haynes said TC3 measures its success as a college by where students transfer to, how well they are prepared for their four-year college experience, the jobs they find and how they perform at those jobs, what they say in exit interviews and how the Middle States Accreditation team views the college.
He said all of these indicators show students are getting value from TC3.
“If you go year by year, we will at some point ring all we can out of the efficiencies we have in place — we will need more staff,” Haynes said. “But our number of employees will never grow as fast as our enrollment does.”
Community colleges cannot cap enrollment, as a four-year college can, Haynes has said in the past.
Next year’s enrollment includes full-time, part-time, international and CollegeNow students, who are high school students who take high school courses that count as TC3 credit.
CollegeNow will have about 600 students.
The number of global students will drop from 226.5 full-time equivalent students to 184, a 19 percent decrease. Haynes said that was due to a cutback in a program at Florida’s Disney World that sponsored international students.
Haynes said the college has tried to help staff cope with the high enrollment through six initiatives: “lean office” practices in student services, document sharing through scheduling technology called Astra, going paperless with publications and processes, going online with student information and finding ways to save energy.
The paperless processes include ways for students to go online for course registration, financial aid records and questions about aid or grades, instead of calling staff.
Haynes said that among New York community colleges of comparable size and academic programs, TC3 rates highly in how it helps its students.

 

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