NSU, L.E. Fletcher look for numbers to climb with start of fall semester

July 21
July 21, 2009
Louise Fanguy Buquet
July 23, 2009
July 21
July 21, 2009
Louise Fanguy Buquet
July 23, 2009

Nicholls State University and L.E. Fletcher Technical Community College officials anticipate an increase in enrollment this fall, despite the severe cuts to their operating budgets.

“We are taking a position that enrollment will hold against last year,” said Nicholls President Dr. Stephen Hulbert. “Every indication at this point says that we will see an increase in our enrollment. We have an increase in housing applications for returning students and freshmen enrollment.”

Fletcher’s Chancellor F. Travis Lavigne concurred. “Enrollment is on the rise for the fall based on registration,” he said. “Fletcher is seeing an increase in new student applications, along with returning students from the spring and summer semesters.”

School officials say they cannot draw any further conclusions because there are uncertainties with the economy that could affect enrollment.

As part of the state’s effort to trim dollars any way possible, Nicholls will go into the fall semester operating on $4.4 million less than it did one year ago, forcing the university to eliminate five bachelor’s and four associate’s degree programs this fall under the budget cuts.

Eugene Dial, vice president for student affairs and enrollment services, said the university is phasing out its computer science, manufacturing technology, agriculture, French and French education bachelor’s programs.

Nicholls is offering juniors and seniors in soon-to-be discontinued programs an opportunity to take classes in their fields over the next year, and then take general classes closer to graduation.

“New students will not be allowed in the eliminated programs,” Dial said. “So it frees up the instructors to be able to teach more of the major courses instead of the introductory courses. That way the students will have the classes they need to stay on track for graduation.”

This year’s sophomores who are in course studies to be eliminated would likely not be able to finish all their required classes, and therefore would either have to switch majors or transfer to other schools.

“It’s difficult to project how the degree eliminations will hurt,” Hulbert said. “We hope that many of the students will transfer to another program within the campus instead of transferring to another college or university.”

Nicholls’ eliminated associate’s programs include respiratory therapy, criminal and legal assistance studies, and several concentrations in allied health that do not have feeder bachelor’s programs.

“The university went through a process before eliminating the programs,” Dial said. “We factored in the number of graduates in each program over the last five years and how many students they have in their senior classes.”

“The two-year programs were healthy programs, but the university has been working with Fletcher to transition those degrees in their curriculum, which is where a two-year program belongs.”

Lavigne said having Nicholls eliminate several of its two-year programs will definitely give Fletcher a boost in enrollment now that the technical college has earned its Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation.

On the other hand, Lavigne said Fletcher is dealing with its own budget cuts.

The school’s operating budget has been reduced by has a $416,000, which is an 8.4 percent cut.

However, the technical college did not want to lose any of its instructors or courses, so reductions in each department were reviewed thoroughly.

“This is a challenging time to increase enrollment with decreasing funds,” Lavigne said. “But we will maintain quality at Fletcher.”