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Dr. Frank Talamantes, Ph.D.


Higher Enrollment, Greater Diversity

Managing Growth
When Steven H. Tallant became president of Texas A&M University at Kingsville in
2008, enrollment on the main campus stood at about 5,700, down more than 2,000
from its peak in the 1970s.
After the rollout of an effort to increase enrollment, Mr. Tallant watched the student
population soar to nearly 9,000. That jump ranks it as the fastest-growing public
doctoral institution in the country from 2003 to 2013.
Meanwhile, overall college enrollment in the United States has shrunk for four
consecutive years. So how have some colleges managed to grow so rapidly, even as
the number of high-school graduates stagnates and fewer nontraditional students take
the plunge?
"There is not a silver bullet to growth. There are a lot of variables," says Mr. Tallant.
The universitys plan centered on the idea that your best recruiters are your current
students. From there university officials created new student programs and focused on
improving the campuss appearance, dormitories, and retention rates.
Finding space for everyone was not that challenging because the campus had excess
classrooms left over from periods of higher enrollment. Some of the buildings,
however, were not in the best shape.
"The campus looked old and tired. We cleaned it up and made it look better," said Mr.
Tallant. "You have the first 15 minutes of a visit to leave an impression. If not, they
arent going to come."

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The institution also raised its admission standards, putting an end to open admissions
a move that left some confused.
"People thought that I was nuts to up standards when we were trying to find new
students," he said. "But students want to belong to good universities: It makes them
proud of their school."
Mr. Tallant says the rural campus, 40 miles southwest of Corpus Christi, has increased
its reach to places like Austin and San Antonio. Local students who fall below the
new standards, he notes, can attend nearby community colleges.
The rapid growth poses some issues, especially when it comes to finding and training
faculty. In the last five years, Kingsville added 66 adjunct faculty members and
lecturers to keep up with the number of students, he said.

Because of cost and initial uncertainty about whether growth would be sustained, the
university "couldnt invest in tenure-track faculty right away. But every so many
students added, dollars would go toward faculty," Mr. Tallant said. During the past 18
months, he has approved the hiring of 35 new tenure-track professors.
Many of these endeavors have cost a chunk of change, but the expenses have been
offset by alumni giving, Mr. Tallant says. The campus has also received support from
Austin, including a $60-million allocation this year from the Legislature to expand its
music building and add a general classroom building. Lance Lambert

A Yardstick for Racial Diversity

Many colleges assert that their campuses are among the most diverse in the country,
but they dont explain by what measure.
In 1991, Philip Meyer, a professor of journalism and mass communication at the
University of North Carolina, and Shawn McIntosh, of the newspaper USA
Today, created a Diversity Index based on probability theory. The Chronicle used that
formula to identify the most-diverse campuses in the country.
The index is a number, on a scale from 0 to 100, that represents the chance that two
people chosen randomly will be of different races or ethnicities. The higher the
number, the greater the diversity.
When comparing people who report being of two or more races, the index considers
them diverse by default. So it is not surprising that many of the campuses that ranked
among the most diverse in the fall of 2013 were in Hawaii, where close to a quarter of
the residents identify themselves as being of two or more races.
Among four-year public institutions, the University of Hawaii at Hilo was the most
diverse, with a diversity index of 87.31 in the fall of 2013, followed by three other
University of Hawaii campuses.
Hawaii Pacific University was the most diverse four-year private nonprofit institution,
with a diversity index of 84.26.

Ronald E. Cambra, assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate education at the

University of Hawaii-Manoa, attributed his campuss high index to the overall
diversity in the state as well as the universitys recruiting efforts. He says the
universitys focus on peer mentoring and group work fosters a sense of community
among students of all backgrounds. Sandhya Kambhampati

In Search of Socioeconomic Diversity

One indicator of whether a college serves a high share of students from low-income
families is its percentage of Pell Grant recipients. Only financially needy students are
eligible to receive that federal aid.
Laura W. Perna, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of
Education, notes that family income "is positively correlated with traditional measures
of academic achievement. And so at the less academically selective schools, you have
students who, on average, have lower incomes," she said. "For academically selective
institutions, it takes real institutional commitment to not just enroll the higher-income
At Bacone College, a private nonprofit institution in Oklahoma, nearly 95 percent of
students received Pell Grants in 2012-13. Kindle Holderby, Bacones director of
enrollment management and student life, says the high figure reflects the institutions
"Bacone was founded with the purpose of educating Native Americans, and many
Native Americans in the late 1800s were poor. They could come here and get a
college degree very cheaply; we still have this commitment to lower-income students
today," Mr. Holderby said.
Marta Soto, a financial-aid officer for the University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla, says
students from needy families are drawn there to earn credits at the commuter campus
at a lower cost before transferring to another campus in the system. In 2012-13, 81
percent of Aguadillas students received Pell Grants.

A few colleges that enroll a low percentage of Pell Grant recipients also cited their
mission as the reason. At Thomas Edison State College, a public four-year institution
in New Jersey, only 12 percent of undergraduates received Pell Grants in 2012-13.
The institution focuses on educating older adults, says Joe Guzzardo, a college
"When you factor in our students age, their dependents, and their incomes, the fact is
that they dont typically meet the criteria for Pell Grants," he said. "A fairly large
percentage of our students are active-duty military, and they use military tuition
assistance instead." Isaac Stein

Correction (August 20, 2015, 2:50 p.m.): A table on the fastest-growing institutions
originally listed Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana as the fastest-growing
public associate institution. That is incorrect. The college appeared to have grown by
more than 1,000 percent from 2003 to 2013 because it reported the enrollment of its
14 regions collectively in 2013 but separately in 2003. Its growth during the 10-year
period was only 78 percent. The table has been revised to show River Parishes
Community College as the fastest-growing public associate institution.

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