The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Trends at SIUC Part 1: Student/Staffing Levels

with 8 comments

I am planning a series of posts on trends at SIUC, starting today with student enrollment compared to staffing levels.  I went to the quick facts section of the SIUC Institutional Research and Studies page to find the data. Unfortunately, the full 2010 data is not yet available, but we know enrollment decreased by 313 students.

As you can see in the graphs below, enrollment is trending downward while employment is trending upward.

The student enrollment numbers are for all students, both on and off campus and including those at the Springfield med school campus.  The employment numbers include faculty, administrative professional (A/P), and staff, but exclude graduate and undergraduate assistants.

The enrollment graph is clear enough. Enrollment declined by ten percent between fall 2000 and fall 2009. That’s over 2,000 students. During this time, SIUC had three chancellors and two interim chancellors.

During the same period, total employment at SIUC increased by 11 percent. SIUC added 549 jobs while enrollment fell by more than 2,000 students. This is worth a closer look.

First we’ll look at faculty employment:

The faculty numbers cover full and part time faculty, both tenure track and non-tenure track. Faculty employment increased by 8 percent during the last ten years, which is slower than the rate of increase for total employment. There were declines from 2001-2003 and from 2006-2007. Still, there were 120 more faculty positions in 2009 than in 2000.

I’m not too concerned about this increase. The university’s goal during this period was to increase enrollment, and it makes sense to hire additional faculty. A lower student/faculty ratio might be helpful in recruitment. If enrollment continues to decline faculty employment will have to follow, but for now it might be worthwhile to keep these numbers where they are.

Executive, administrative, and managerial employees are next:

This category includes both executive A/P and executive civil service. Executive, administrative, and managerial employment increased by 6 percent over the last decade. Employment decreased between 2002 and 2004, and didn’t reach fall 2000 level until 2008.

Now we’ll look at the biggest growth area, professional non-faculty:

This category includes both professional A/P and professional civil service. Professional non-faculty employment grew by a whopping 35 percent during the same period when enrollment fell by 10 percent.  This is more than triple the rate of total employment growth at SIUC. Clearly this is unsustainable.

Finally, we’ll look at all other employees:

This category includes secretarial/clerical workers, technical/para-professional employees, skilled craft workers, and service/maintenance workers.  The numbers decreased sharply from 2001 to 2003 then began a slow recovery, only surpassing the fall 2000 numbers in 2009.

As you can see in the graph below, the growth in this category was entirely in the technical/para-professional area:

Secretarial/clerical, skilled craft, and service/maintenance employment actually fell during the last ten years, though only skilled craft employment declined at a greater rate than enrollment. These reductions were erased by the 30 percent increase in technical/para-professional employment.

Clearly SIUC is overstaffed. In 2009, we had 20,350 students, but there were more employees than in 2000, when enrollment stood at 22,552. This can’t be allowed to continue.

I’d suggest leaving faculty employment where it is for now and focusing on reductions in executive-administrative-managerial employees and professional non-faculty. The technical/para-professional category also needs a look.

Reductions through attrition are to be preferred to reductions through layoffs, but nothing should be off the table. Furloughs (or administrative closures) are a must.

Of course, steadily increasing enrollment would be ideal.  Chancellor Cheng has made some changes in enrollment management, and the new leadership is changing strategies. Cheng has also initiated a change in SIUC’s marketing strategy. Cheng seems to recognize the problems SIUC has had in the past, and she’s promising to remain in her post longer than her predecessors. I’m hoping she can turn things around at the university.

Comments are welcome.

***CORRECTED:  In response to a reader’s criticism (see comments below), I changed the graph showing growth in professional non-faculty employment. To see the original graph alongside the replacement, click here.***


8 Responses

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  1. […] wrote a post last week comparing SIUC enrollment with employment levels, and I want to follow up by specifically […]

  2. […] am writing a series of posts about trends at SIUC. Last week I posted part 1 comparing enrollment and staffing levels over the past ten years. This is part 2: six-year […]

  3. […] employment has grown by 11%. Faculty employment has grown by 8% during this period. I have posted about this before. SIUC has a $2.5 million budget gap. I don’t see how that gap can be filled […]

  4. […] labor cost reductions are an important part of improving SIUC’s fiscal health. As I’ve pointed out previously, employment has grown while enrollment has declined. Action is necessary to resolve the budget […]

  5. […] furlough days will admit the need for labor cost reductions and agree to take the days. I’ve posted previously about over-staffing at SIUC. Furloughs are a way to reduce labor cost without permanent […]

  6. Your scale on the professional non-faculty graph is misleading. Unlike most of the other graphs, the scale on the professional non-faculty graph starts at 0, and it looks like it barely changed. Really it was the one of the biggest changes on all of these graphs. The professional non-faculty increased from about 1175 to nearly 1600, a larger increase than the faculty increase from 1525 to about 1650.


    November 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    • Paranoid,

      Thanks for the comment. You’re right about that professional non-faculty graph. I changed it.

      I should mention that the poor graph was an oversight, not an attempt to mislead. In the paragraph below the graph, I wrote: “Professional non-faculty employment grew by a whopping 35 percent during the same period when enrollment fell by 10 percent.”

      Later in the post, I wrote: “I’d suggest leaving faculty employment where it is for now and focusing on reductions in executive-administrative-managerial employees and professional non-faculty.”

      This would be the first employment category I’d look at if I were going to reduce employment at SIUC.

      Thanks again for pointing out the faulty graph!

      The Carbondale Observer

      November 22, 2010 at 10:14 pm

  7. […] when the legislature appropriates funds, SIUC will not fare well. As everyone knows, SIUC’s enrollment is declining and our six-year graduation rates are less than 50% – third lowest in the state. Our […]

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