Decline in PNW enrollment causes for reorganization.

As PNW enrollment continues to decline, the university is weighing a reorganization to streamline administration and control costs.

Overall enrollment has declined by nearly 50% — from 15,286 in fall 2016 to nearly 8,100 this semester. Core enrollment – reflecting full-time, in-person enrollees – dropped from about 9,100 in fall 2016 to 5,637 this semester.

Declines in high school-age students suggest the trend is likely to continue.

“Last year I asked the chancellor what our enrollment would be like once the decline stabilizes,” said Thomas Roach, chair of the Faculty Senate. “The response was that 7,000 students was the possibility. We did not have a plan for adjusting to this change. Instead, every year enrollment went down, we would remove funds from different areas.”

The problem is that fund shuffles may not be a long-lasting solution.

“We allocate the cuts in the same proportional ways as they have received their support,” said Steve Turner, vice chancellor for Finance. “All PNW operating budgets are ‘tight’ insofar as we must prepare, submit and manage a balanced budget,” he said. “If revenues decline due to enrollment, expenses must be reduced accordingly.”

Roach believes funding adjustments may be easier with administrators than faculty.

“When we had 12,000 students, there might have been a department with 12 faculty teaching four classes each,” Roach said. “As it gets smaller, the department would have six faculty teaching four classes each. Across the university, department chairs and deans have fewer faculty to preside over.”

Since enrollment decreases are still anticipated, Roach and the Senate are working to offer faculty input to university reorganization planning.

 “After speaking with the provost, we decided to form two committees, one formed from faculty, and one formed from administration,” he said. “The plan was to look at other colleges in order to create a proposal then meet with the other committee. The faculty got our proposal finished this winter. We notified the provost, but their committee is not yet ready to meet.”

The faculty proposes a reduction in the senior leadership team, including some administrators and department chairs. The proposal hopes its recommendations result in restoration of full pay for summer classes, retention of all academic programs and a reduction in administration costs.

As part of its belt-tightening, PNW has discontinued some services, such as intra-campus transportation. Turner said the university has no immediate plans to make more such cuts.