The CSUN campus is brimming with students amid record enrollment above 32,000.
For the second consecutive semester, Cal State Northridge's enrollment has reached a record high in the 44-year history of the campus, with more than 32,000 students taking classes this fall.
With still one more week until the official fall enrollment is tallied, the university already has enrolled 32,506 students, a gain of 10 percent and nearly 3,000 students compared to the 29,518 headcount (Northridge-only) the same time a year ago. The final fall headcount is likely to rise even higher during the coming week.
CSUN last set an enrollment record in spring 2002 with an official headcount of 31,681. That this fall's enrollment has grown even larger is even more amazing because the university this semester stopped counting students enrolled in its Channel Islands program because their numbers shifted to the new CSU Channel Islands campus.
In another extraordinary indicator of the campus' growth and progress during the past decade, this fall's enrollment means the university has grown by nearly 34 percent, or about 8,200 students, since the low of 24,310 students reached in fall 1994 after the Northridge earthquake.
"It's an indication that we're becoming a destination campus," said Louanne Kennedy, CSUN's provost and vice president of academic affairs. But the provost also said it has been a challenge trying to get so many students into a limited number of classes.
"The classroom situation is tight," Kennedy said. "We're doing everything we can to accommodate the students. We're even offering classes in conference rooms. If there's a space available, we're going to use it." This fall, the university is offering 5,347 course sections, including 3,416 lecture-type sections.
Kennedy said the university's classrooms and lecture halls are almost full from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. The university also offers classes on Saturdays and Sundays to meet the demand. Across the campus, the university has more than 200 lecture classrooms.
During the summer, Kennedy said campus officials poured over CSUN's already-tight budget and transferred about $400,000 from other projects to academic programs just to accommodate the growth in students.
In her annual convocation address earlier this month, CSUN President Jolene Koester called it "a very difficult balancing act" for the university to manage its enrollment to not go too far beyond available budget resources, while also maintaining the campus' strong commitment to access for higher education.
The president last May appointed an Enrollment Policy Group of campus leaders headed by Assistant Vice President for Student Life William Watkins to offer policy recommendations on how the university can manage its twin values of access and quality without compromising either.
While awaiting the policy group's recommendations, the university has already had to take some actions to manage its enrollment, particularly in an environment where state budget deficits and resulting cuts have limited new state funds available to the campus and the rest of the Cal State system.
For the spring 2003 semester, when new student applications are relatively light compared to the fall, CSUN is not admitting first-time freshmen, lower-division transfers or those seeking postbaccalaureate studies or second bachelor's degrees. CSUN accepted upper-division transfer applications for the spring only during the initial filing period in August.
Margaret Fieweger, associate vice president for undergraduate studies, said in some ways, the high enrollment at Northridge is "a testament to the quality of education we offer at Cal State Northridge."
Kennedy also said she has been impressed with the patience of students and of the staff and faculty, many of whom are taking on more students than they originally thought they would have in their classes.
"For some faculty, this has meant completely redesigning their class plans," Kennedy said. "Everyone has done a great job of maintaining morale and goodwill throughout it all. For that, I am grateful. And it probably explains in part why we're becoming a destination university. It's the caliber of our faculty and students."
@csun | September 23, 2002 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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