Friedman: Enrollment stabilization would be a godsend

BY IAN FRIEDMAN | JULY 24, 2012 6:30 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Behold — another school year is in our midst. Yes, another year filled with long nights spent procrastinating, football Saturdays, and freshmen.

Oh yes, freshmen.

They come in droves flooding once familiar places with a bewildering and unrecognizable glow, bringing with them an awkwardness that makes me want to laugh and cringe simultaneously.

There are also a lot of them. Literally thousands. At times it seems as if they've permeated every single part of the campus.

Fortunately, the University of Iowa has decided to focus on quality instead of quantity in admissions, stabilizing the number of students being admitted. This comes as a godsend to the school because it allows admissions officials to focus on accepting higher-caliber students while keeping housing and educational resources at about the same level.

In 2010, the university set a goal of reaching a 4,500-student freshman class within five years, then was able to meet that goal in its first year. Because the goal was met early, UI spokesman Tom Moore said, the university wanted to shift its focus toward the quality of education, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

This is great. No, this is more than great. This is phenomenal. It implies that deep down, officials do really care about whom they accept, and that's comforting to know because it reassures the students that they're not being treated as mere statistics. Plus, it certainly beats the alternative of accepting students for the potential cash flow they bring. The problem with that is resource availability.

Just last August, the university leased Centerstone Apartments, 121/131 E. Davenport St., from College View LLC for two years at $760,560 to accommodate the demand for returning Honors students. It marked the second time the university has leased an off-campus complex to support a growing demand by students to live in the dorms — the first was the Lodge.

At present, the university is constructing a new 10-story, $53 million dorm that is expected to be completed by the summer of 2015, anticipating that it will house 501 students. It is the first dorm to be built at the university in 44 years.

These solutions are necessary and take the university in the right direction in the event that future enrollment exceeds its current level. Stabilizing the enrollment doesn't just have residence-hall implications, though. Keeping the number of incoming freshmen at the same level keeps the demand for classrooms and educators at the same level as well.

According to a Capacity Management Study conducted by Astra Schedule for the UI, some of the teaching spaces throughout the school year are experiencing a bottleneck effect, meaning that a given room is being utilized at least 80 percent of its time. Auditoriums in particular are being used almost 100 percent of their potential times.

If the university were to accept way more than 4,500 students per year in the upcoming years, not only would the university have nowhere to house them, but there wouldn't be enough class space available to teach them in.

You could find off-campus housing if it was necessary, but where are you supposed to learn if all the classrooms are full?

It's important to understand that college is a business, and that sometimes an unpopular decision has to be made for business purposes. This is not one of those decisions. The desired enrollment stabilization reflects a vigor and determination by the university to foster and promote the development of its students by continuing a long-standing legacy of excellence in education and student life.

In today's issue:

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.