Jon Jonakin letter to the editor re: enrollment numbers

TTU enrollment numbers manipulated

Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Many of us have come to expect carefully manipulated and self-aggrandizing messaging or hype from the current TTU administration. The latest hype involves enrollment numbers.

Recall that the fiscal crisis at TTU that resulted in the firing of many people emerged from a combination of factors: sharp declines in student enrollment in recent years, administrative mismanagement of scholarship funds and huge increases in high echelon administrative salaries, among others.

Greater student enrollment would thus address one area of fiscal concern. On Sept. 17, the Herald-Citizen published an article passed along by the TTU administration that was headlined: ‘TTU Reports Increase In Enrollment’.  See it here:,23267.

Moreover, the article hyped the fact that TTU had the “largest freshman class in recent years” which was still small relative to more distant years.  Beneath the headlines and hype one read that the overall enrollment increase was “slight.”  Indeed it was since there are only 10 more students enrolled this year than last.

Significantly, this was the year — two years on from the implementation of the Tennessee Promise program which assured free access to Tennessee’s two year community colleges — wherein one would have expected marked increases in junior and senior class enrollments at four year universities like TTU.  This did not happen, at least at TTU, where, instead, one could infer they fell.

The tiny enrollment increase of course will do nothing to diminish TTU’s ongoing fiscal problems and these numbers should be deeply disturbing to TTU administrators.

With the exceptions of the College of Engineering and the graduate school, virtually every other college of the university registered declined in enrollment. The near freeze on the hiring of tenure track professors — a sure sign of fiscal crisis — has likely contributed to enrollment decline as fewer classes can be offered in some cases.

On the other hand, the recent increases in hires of low paid adjuncts and instructors will affect the quality of teaching and will also likely contribute to enrollment decline in coming years.

Hyping increases in freshman class enrollment while suppressing acknowledgement of the declines elsewhere in the university indicate that the current administration remains in deep denial regarding TTU’s fiscal prospects.

 One can only hope that the newly established TTU governing board is paying attention and does not permit itself to believe all the hype coming from the Oldham administration.

Jon Jonakin


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