The Detroit Free Press reports:

2 Michigan universities facing enrollment challenges know they have to make big changes

It was a gray, rainy, cold late-October afternoon, the kind of day best suited for a fire and a cup of coffee, or if you had to be at work, a day not to be jealous of those with a window in their office.

For about 75 people — a smattering of students, but mostly faculty and staff — sitting around a series of round tables in a large meeting room on Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus, the first sentences from Edward Montgomery didn’t make the day burst into sunshine.

“We have some facts and figures for you,” said Montgomery, Western’s president. “Some of them will be depressing.”

The same tone of that presentation could have been — and likely has been — repeated at a number of Michigan’s public universities, particularly the regional universities.

It’s easy to see why universities are struggling.

Shrinking enrollment, thanks to a smaller overall pool of traditional-age college students, has led to fewer credit hours being taken, which has led to less tuition money rolling in…

One week after Western Michigan held its town hall, a crowd of Central Michigan University staff, administrators, board members and some students trooped through a light dusting of snow into an auditorium on the Mount Pleasant campus for Central President Bob Davies’ state of the university speech.

After highlighting various exciting programs and students, Davies began talking about a new strategic plan that would stretch into 2030.

He also acknowledged the reality of the situation — Central’s enrollment is down by about 20% from the fall of 2009 and its credit hours taken have fallen from 691,000 in fiscal 2011 to 557,000 in fiscal 2019.


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