UNC releases “focus growth” report

CHAPEL HILL – Enrollment has increased at seven UNC system institutions that were targeted to improve low enrollment numbers, according to a recently-released report.

Since 1999, enrollment increased at the seven institutions, denominated as “focused-growth” institutions, by 11,777 students, or 36.3 percent. More than $28 million in state funds have been used to increase enrollment through the program.

The focused-growth enrollment program is part of a 10-year, system-wide initiative to increase enrollment. Seven institutions – Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, UNC-Pembroke, Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University – were targeted in the program because of historically low enrollment and excess physical capacity, according to the report.

UNC leaders set a goal of 20 percent enrollment growth by 2003 at the seven institutions. Enrollment figures as of the fall of 2004 show that only Fayetteville State University failed to reach the 20 percent enrollment growth target. In 1999, the school had an enrollment of 4,879, which increased to 5,441 in 2004 a gain of 11.5 percent.

From 1999 to 2004, Winston-Salem State University had the highest percentage of increased enrollment at 72.4 percent. UNC-Pembroke’s enrollment increased by 64.2 percent, followed by North Carolina Central University (38.1), North Carolina A&T (36.6), Western Carolina University (27.6), Elizabeth City State University (25.6), and Fayetteville State University.

In a letter, UNC President Molly Corbett Broad discussed the reasons for the program’s apparent accomplishments.

“Today, with the benefit of careful investment and guidance in enrollment management, improved operating efficiencies, expanded private fund-raising, and numerous new degree programs, these campuses are in dramatically healthier condition and are well positions to prosper in the years ahead,” Broad said.

Beginning in 1999, state legislators began a systematic funding of the focused-growth initiative. That year, $10 million in recurring state funds was allocated for the program with an additional $2 million coming from a fund within the UNC Office of the President.

According to the report, $3 million from that initial appropriation was spent to promote greater operating efficiencies among institutions with fewer than 5,000 students. UNC also spent $3 million to improve instruction at the seven institutions. Also, $2 million was spent to improve the institutions’ development offices.

“This infusion of funds offered the focused-growth campuses unparalleled opportunities to strengthen their infrastructures and expand their abilities to serve escalating number of students,” the report states.

In subsequent years, UNC leaders asked legislators for more funding for the program. In 2001, legislators approved a $2.3 million in recurring funds for the program, while an additional $11 million was appropriated in 2002. Also, non-recurring funds of $2.7 million were also added along with more than $1.4 million in reserve funding.

Funds were also spent to add new degree programs at the seven institutions in an effort to increase enrollment, according to the report. Sixty-six degree programs among the seven institutions were established between 1999 and 2004. Of the 66, 12 were added at Western Carolina, including a degree in entrepreneurship that was created in September of 2000. Eleven degrees have been added at Winston-Salem State University, UNC-Pembroke, and North Carolina A&T. Ten degrees were added at Elizabeth City State University, while six were added at Fayetteville State University and five at North Carolina Central University.

Shannon Blosser (sblosser@popecenter.org) is a staff writer for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Chapel Hill.