FILE - Classroom teacher

Lake Superior State University (LSSU) is experiencing significant enrollment and application increases and is an innovative leader in a number of training programs, the university said in response to a Center Square story on enrollment at Michigan's colleges.

“Last year, overall enrollment increased by about 12 percent and we’re currently seeing applications and admits for the fall 2020 at their highest levels in many years,” Sharmay Wood, LSSU interim director of marketing and communications, said in an email to The Center Square, responding to details in a Lansing State Journal article referenced by The Center Square that stated LSSU enrollment had fallen 10 percent over the last decade.

The Nov. 5 story in The Center Square also quoted veteran journalist Chad Selweski, who expressed his opinion LSSU would not survive in the long-run if current enrollment trends prevail

“Lake Superior State is leading the way with adding innovative new programs, including Cannabis Chemistry and Cannabis Business, Robotic Engineering, International Business, E-Marketing, Culinary Arts, and Geographical Information Systems, which join our well known programs such as Fisheries and Wildlife Management, Engineering, Nursing, Criminal Justice, and Fire Science,” Wood added.

Benjamin Lockerd, a professor at Grand Valley State University, one of five Michigan universities where enrollment has remained stable, also responded to The Center Square story, and listed several reasons why other schools are struggling, including recent generations having fewer children.

“But the universities have also priced themselves out of the market to some extent, raising tuition by double-digit amounts for many years running,” Lockerd said. “Now some people are beginning to wonder whether the high price tag and the massive student loan debt is really worth it."

Lockerd also was critical of rising administrative costs.

“Every time I turn around, I hear of a new vice president or associate provost or dean appointed to be in charge of curriculum development, sustainability, government relations or lobbying," he said. "Like any large organization, the university tends to become top-heavy over time. For-profit companies have an incentive to cut those managerial costs from time to time, but non-profit institutions of higher learning have no such incentive, provided people keep thinking they simply must send their youngsters to university at any cost.”

Lockerd said diversity initiatives also have increased costs.

“To demonstrate their commitment to diversity, universities deploy senior management teams, which is what we have now in place of old-fashioned faculty deans and provosts, establish large and expensive units devoted to promoting inclusion,” he said.

 

Regional Editor

Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.