With one of the largest graduating classes in about eight years, Florida Southern has begun breaking down the “numbers,” and looking at the necessary changes that need to be made in order to maintain academic excellence and quality living for students on campus.
Terry Dennis, Vice President for Finance and Administration plans for changes in enrollment and the growing student population on campus.
“We’re budgeting [next year] for the freshman number to be the same or smaller, part of that is we’ve been raising our quality of admittance,” Dennis said. “So academically, we’re bringing better and better students, which means people at the bottom level might not be as easily admittable as they were.”
Dennis does not believe that next freshman class will be big enough that it will cause any significant ripple effects on any other areas.
“We have the largest graduating class, it’s the largest in we’ve had in about eight or nine years, so we have a lot of people disappearing as they finish their term that offsets the big freshman class,” Dennis said.
The size of the student body can affect many other areas such as the need for more faculty hires or classroom space.
“We have to be careful when we’re doing our planning. Our enrollment went up this year, and say for example, we had the need to hire three additional faculty members,” Dennis said. “Usually for faculty members they sign a contract the spring before, because everybody starts school in August or September.”
Faculty are hired on a need basis, if only one section of English needs to be added FSC hires an adjunct, or a part-time professor.
“We want to try to look several years ahead to try to have enough professors, so that if there is a spike in enrollment for just a year, we won’t hire as many teachers if we thought it would go back down,” Dennis said.
Currently FSC has enough academic space on campus to accommodate all educational departments. Adjustments in class scheduling allows for enough classroom space to be available, even if classes aren’t considered “ideal” times.
“Most students and faculty members would rather prefer not to have an 8 a.m. class. They would rather start at 9 a.m. and be through by early afternoon,” Dennis said. “As your enrollment gets larger, buildings have an increase. You might find you have to do more classes at the odd hours, evening classes or classes that go all the way to 5 p.m. to cover the day. This means you have to make some adjustments to the preferred schedules that students would have.”
Lab hours are more difficult to schedule because all students who have a science must also take a lab hour. Though science lecture class can be held in any lecture hall, with a limited number of lab classrooms, planning times that fit with student schedules can turn into a substantial problem.
If enrollment in science majors has a significant increase, finding times to fit classes into every student schedule will be a struggle for advisors.
Of course, whenever the student population grows, one of the first complaints is the lack of parking on campus.
“I hear more about parking than anything else when our numbers start to go up, or a new building is coming in and we lose part of a parking lot because of construction- it’s something you have to think through pretty carefully about,” Dennis said. “This year you may have noticed the campus shuttle, we send it to lake Hollingsworth apartments every 20 minutes, trying to help keep some of students from bringing a car over here, looking for a space in the tight parking. It makes just a continuous circle all day. that’s one of our ways to help parking.”
Though parking remains to be a hot topic on campus, no major plans are set to help alleviate it. The campus shuttle system will remain for next year.
Campus safety asks that all students parking on campus purchase a parking pass in order to keep track of all student cars on campus. The number of passes sold helps to give the school an idea of just how much parking is needed for students.
After the completion of construction on the Wynee Warden Dance Studio students and faculty will be able to use the overflow grass parking lot again.
In the future a small parking lot will be available for use in the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise.