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Cohen & Ibrahim, Change, May/June 2008

Chancellor Cohen Photo

How Are Enrollments at Purdue Calumet?

This is the question most frequently asked of the Chancellor. Our friends, rightly, want to know about our organizational health, and they understand that it all begins with enrollment.

Purdue Calumet grew significantly from 1971 to 1992, increasing from some 5,500 students to a high of 9,496 students (8,633 undergraduates) 21 years later. For the past 10 years, our enrollment has remained fairly constant around the 9,000-student level. During that decade our student count ranged from a high of 9,352 to last fall's total of 8,863.

Larger course loads; more full time students

In addition to the number of students enrolled, we also track the number of credit hours our students carry. In 1991, our students carried about 162,000 credit hours. By 2001, that number had exceeded 182,000. In other words, the number of credit hours enrolled per Purdue Calumet student has increased in recent years. That reflects more full-time enrollees-a healthy trend in our strategic quest to graduate more students within a six-year period. It also is noteworthy that from 1992 to 2002, while total head count decreased somewhat, full time student enrollment increased from 45 percent to 52 percent.

Better prepared enrollees

More recently, another important change is taking place in our student enrollment profile. For the past three years enrollment in our University Division-a point of entry for non-degree students and others needing further academic preparation for entry into a degree program-has been dropping by as much as 3 percent per year, while enrollment in most of our degree programs has been growing. This is a very healthy sign for Purdue Calumet. It means that we are enrolling fewer students who are unprepared to begin a major course of study, and more students who are ready and able to pursue their goals.

Partnering with community colleges

As we plan to continue this trend of attracting greater numbers of better prepared, full-time students, we expect that more under prepared students who formerly would have started their college education in our University Division instead will opt to begin at a community college. In contrast, we also expect that more students who begin at a community college or elsewhere will transfer to Purdue Calumet-prepared and qualified for entry into a degree program.

A diverse campus

Another healthy sign is that while these changes have occurred, our enrollment of minority students has remained relatively high. More than 26 percent of our students are from designated minority groups, significantly higher than the Indiana average of 13 percent. Claiming the highest Hispanic enrollment (nearly 1,200) of any Indiana college or university, we continue to be one of the most diverse public institutions in our state. To be successful we must continue to serve all populations in Northwest Indiana.

Our future lies with better-prepared, first-time, full-time students; more transfer students who are ready for our degree programs; and better retention of students once they arrive. Our strategic vision commits us to student success.

A new degree program a year

In order to build on and reinforce these enrollment trends, Purdue Calumet is planning to grow to 10,500 students on our Hammond campus. This will require new program development in areas that will attract additional students. We are now seeking approval to introduce a Bachelor of Arts degree program in Business and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Graphics Technology. Our goal is to develop a new program each year as part of our five-year strategic plan.

Strengthening our foundation

While our neighboring institutions in Northwest Indiana have reported overall enrollment increases of late, the enrollment picture at Purdue Calumet is healthy. Recent strategic decisions we have made are strengthening our foundation and positioning us to improve student retention and, subsequently, generate more graduates for our region. By doing so, we will fulfill our commitment to student success.

Sincerely,

Howard Cohen
Chancellor



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