Rising enrollments raise student questions

David C. Bivens, president, IUP Student Government Association, Sept. 26, 2010. Photo by David Loomis

By Brittany Malone

INDIANA — Students are not getting what they paid for at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, according to David C. Bivens, president of the Student Government Association. Record enrollments have swelled class sizes to levels larger than advertised.

“Students came to IUP because of the small class sizes,” said the political science major in a Nov. 1 interview at Eberly College of Business and Technology.

Interim university President David Werner agreed and said the concerns are warranted.

“I suspect things are tight,” Werner said in a Dec. 2 interview in his Sutton Hall office. “Enrollment growth has put strains on class sections offered.”

Enrollment at IUP has risen steadily for the past decade. In academic year 2000, enrollment totaled 13,410, according to IUP data. In fall 2010, enrollment hit a record 15,126, an increase of 13 percent.

And the increases are accelerating. In fall 2009, IUP enrolled 14,638, according to the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment . The record fall 2010 figure represents an increase of 3.3 percent in one year.

But rising enrollment is not the issue, Bivens said.

“The problem is the management of the enrollment increase,” he said. “There’s not enough faculty.”

Susan Drummond, president of IUP’s faculty union, agreed.

“The quality of education goes down when a professor has to teach a large classroom,” said Drummond in an Oct. 29 phone interview.

Drummond, an IUP alumna and librarian, said it’s a struggle to grade assignments if a professor has three sections of 75 students. She added that IUP administrators intend to increase enrollment in fall 2011. But they are not planning to hire additional permanent faculty.

Drummond elaborated in the September 2010 faculty union newsletter.

“While growth in our student population is seen by management as good for the university and especially for revenues,” Drummond wrote, “the chart included with this newsletter paints a totally different picture about the real and growing threat to providing quality education for all those students.”

Source: IUP APSCUF newsletter, September 2010

The chart shows a blue bar representing IUP administrators, whose numbers have increased nearly 22 percent since 1999, according to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education records. During the same period, the chart’s red bar documents a nearly 9 percent increase in students but, as seen in the green bar, a nearly 7 percent decline in faculty.

IUP President Werner agreed with the accuracy of the chart. But he said the faculty decrease reflects only tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

“The data is not inaccurate, but it’s not the whole story,” said Werner.

Interim IUP President, David J. Werner, Ph.D. Photo courtesy of IUP website

Including part-time and temporary faculty in the count shows that IUP faculty numbers have remained constant since fall 2003, Werner said. The decline in tenured and tenure-track faculty members is related to the weak economy.

“It reflects what’s happening around the world,” said Werner.

Interim IUP President, David J. Werner, Ph.D. Photo courtesy of IUP website

Faculty union president Drummond took issue with Werner’s accounting in what could be a preview of labor-management bargaining leading up to the summer 2011 expiration of the faculty’s three-year contract.

“IUP has not delivered on the promise of a quality education,” Drummond wrote in a Jan. 7 e-mail.  “The statistic which is most alarming, the one that should be scrutinized the most, is the unprecedented growth of managers.  Of what benefit are they to students who can’t schedule the classes they need?”

SGA President Bivens said the focus should stay on the classrooms at the IUP campus.

“From a student perspective, it all comes down to class sizes,” Bivens said in a Jan. 2 email. “The student-faculty ratio needs to stay consistent, not simply the number of faculty, regardless of which kind of faculty is used. Otherwise, class sizes will continue to increase.”

Brittany Malone, a senior journalism and fashion merchandising major, is from West Mifflin, Pa. 

 

Sidebar: For more information

For more information about this story, contact the following sources:

David J. Werner, Ph.D.
President
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
201 Sutton Hall
Indiana, PA 15705

David C. Bivens
President
Student Government Association
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
Email: D.C.Bivens@iup.edu

Susan S. Drummond
President
IUP APSCUF
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
Email: Susan.Drummond@iup.edu

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