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Student shortage spurs budget cuts

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Unexpectedly low enrollment numbers caused budget constraints for the 2006-2007 academic year.

The University enrolled 1,685 students for fall 2006, which contributed to an 8 percent budget shortfall based on projected tuition revenues.

All told the low-than-expected enrollment in off-campus programs led to a $4.4 million revenue shortfall.

This year’s the resulting belt-tightening will last until June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.

“If we’re not bringing in what is anticipated, we have to make revenue match expenditures,” ULV President Stephen Morgan said.

La Verne’s tuition budget is based on the projected number of enrollments for the year.

According to Vice President of Enrollment Management Homa Shabahang, the “optimism” of the projection of incoming students for this year was the main problem.

“It’s a complex balancing act,” Morgan added.

To end the year in good shape, expenses must be examined carefully.

The senior manager of each department will evaluate the expenses to see what is necessary.

Belt-tightening has included not filling staff vacancies unless the position is vital.

“We’re not taking money from the departments, we’re just asking them to curtail their expenditures,” associate vice president and treasurer Avo Kechichian said.

Although Morgan said that the constraints will try to be spread evenly throughout the departments, Kechichian said that the constraints mostly affect administration.

“We do not want to impact the education as it is delivered to the students,” Kechichian said.

Institutional aid and $1.8 million in contingency savings are helping to make up for the shortfall.

The increase in tuition for the upcoming year will help, but that money will be used to keep the university running.

Competition from other schools for students at the five regional centers – in Victorville, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, Orange County and Ventura – are also reasons for why enrollment was low for off-campus centers.

New strategies are being implemented to increase those numbers and the numbers of traditional undergraduates.

“It’s becoming a much more competitive market than it used to be,” Morgan said.

In a survey of 20,000 possible prospective students for 2007, 670 replied saying that they preferred to be contacted through telephone and email.

Prospective students will be contacted this way and less often through mail.

The Web site will be redesigned with the help of a new associate director for Web and electronic marketing that has not been hired yet.

New publications will also be created.

“We don’t want to be kept a secret,” Dean of Admissions Chris Krzak said.

A new strategy called the “Involved” campaign was launched mid-March to increase the number of traditional undergraduates.

It includes new personalized brochures for high school juniors created to fit each person’s interests, a 10-minute video featured on the university’s new Web site that follows around three ULV students for one day, and brochures for parents to allow them to be involved in their child’s decision.

The campaign allows prospective students to see the campus and gain a personal connection with the campus.

“The whole point of this campaign is to show how much a community ULV is,” Shabahang said.

Other changes include the addition of a centralized admissions office and enrollment office.

A new chief marketing officer, Frederick Chyr, was hired and more in-depth marketing and research is being done to know how to better recruit.

“It’s a beautifully rich campus that needs to be marketed well,” Shabahang said.

The number of traditional undergraduates accepted and admitted this year is higher than it was at this time last year.

However, administrators will not know the number of off-campus students admitted until mid-summer, though interest is reportedly high.

Enrollment for off-campus programs has been decreasing for the last four to five years.

The new marketing strategy has not been created for off-campus programs, but it will begin soon.

“I’m confident that we will meet our targets for next year, the following year,” Morgan said. “We’ll see enrollment growth.”

Sher Porter can be reached at sporter4@ulv.edu.

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