Walker discusses validation, SCOT analysis at town hall meeting

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 at 8:30 PM
Walker discusses validation, SCOT analysis at town hall meeting by Dakota Palmer
Photo: Allison Duda

On March 22, Edinboro University President Dr. H. Fred Walker held a second town hall meeting to discuss the data validation and SCOT (strengths, challenges, opportunities, threats) analysis from the university working groups and outside consulting firm, Campus Strategies.

“This is an analysis of strengths and challenges; one of our challenges is we can do better. That’s what we’ll be calling on everyone to do,” said Walker.

The strengths the working groups named were leadership, faculty, academic programs, campus facilities and co-curricular and leadership activities.

The challenges for the university named by the working groups were enrollment and retention, academic programs, finances, student experience and continuity.

The opportunities listed were academic programming and gap analysis, partnership opportunities, other revenue sources, marketing-aggressive branding and enrollment.

The threats stated were enrollment, impact of open admissions at Porreco College on university stature, external economic impact, rise of online programming and academic programming.

Going forward, Walker stated, “We’re going to switch from the working groups into broader, more inclusive institutional conversations with selective groups.”

According to the working groups’ validation results presentation, “Campus Strategies, LLC was engaged to examine the material developed during Edinboro University’s Discovery and Analysis process.”

The various aspects of the presentation were themed into three categories: consensus between the consulting firm and working groups, statistically insignificant difference between the two groups, and statistically significant difference between the groups.

Academics

The following areas had a consensus between the working groups and the consulting firm: number of declared majors in each of the academic degree programs at Edinboro; enrollment changes over the past five years in each academic program; the number of graduates in each academic program in the last five years; the college, school and academic department net revenue ratios for each of the last three academic years; how well-aligned the Edinboro inventory of academic programs is with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) gap analysis; the new degree proposals that are formally in the PASSHE approval process and what programs are included from Edinboro; the four and six year graduation rates for PASSHE and for Edinboro for the last three years; the second and fourth year attrition rates for PASSHE and Edinboro for the last three years; and how much the attrition of 100 Edinboro students impacts Edinboro’s net operating budget and what the annual cost of attrition to the Edinboro budget.

The responses regarding the average student-to-faculty ratio and student-to-staff ratio for the last three years had statistically insignificant differences. These responses are mostly correct, but there are minor errors in the PASSHE data; additionally, the numbers should have been presented as ratios, rather than percentages.

Enrollment Management

The areas of consensus in this section are: the acceptance rate for students at Edinboro in each of the past five years; the projected change in high school graduates in Edinboro’s traditional catchment area for the next decade; the projected impact on enrollment and on-time graduation by increasing admission standards; the percent of Edinboro freshmen who receive Pell grants and where does Edinboro rank with such recipients among public institutions within Pennsylvania; the percent of Edinboro students who receive financial aid or any form of scholarship funding; the published cost of an Edinboro education for one year (tuition, room, board, fees, books, supplies); the annual economic effect on students leaving Edinboro without completing a degree or credential in each of the last five years; the structures or professional programming in place at Edinboro to help students transition from college to careers; and what percent of students use these recourses annually and how many students entered each program and each option or concentration within degree programs in the Edinboro academic inventory in each of the past five years.

The working groups responded that the overall percent decline in Edinboro enrollment and percent decline in high school graduates in Pennsylvania in the last five years was 28.1 and 5.9 percent, respectively. However, the consulting firm said the percentages were 25.2 and 5.8 percent.

Finance

The areas of consensus in this section were: the projected deficit for Edinboro in June 2017; what the “use of fund balances" to cover operating deficits has been for each of the past five years; the percent of Edinboro’s annual expenses for faculty and staff salaries and benefits; the major non-personnel operating expenses for the university; the financial results of the 2016 PASSHE performance funding allocations and how the results impacted the 2017 deficit; the areas that contributed most significantly to the university operating deficit last year; and how much revenue has been realized from philanthropic gifts during the last three years.

The working groups estimated Edinboro’s September 2016 deficit to be $3,868,723, but the consulting firm estimated it to be $3,298,988.

The working groups’ response for how much revenue the university has received through external funding, other than philanthropic gifts, during the last three years was statistically significant from the response of the consulting firm. The working groups said that the subtotal for the revenues without philanthropic gifts was $322,275,183, whereas the consulting firm said the figure should have been $319,255,292.

After the presentation comparing the results of the working groups and the consulting firm, Walker discussed the SCOT analysis.

He said, “The SCOT analysis is not intended to start looking at solutions and recommendations. It’s supposed to be observations of where you’re at.”

Walker described the timeline from the meeting until the fall semester, noting that the next step is to bring together internal constituents and build off the SCOT analysis. At the end of the spring semester, Walker wants a list of non-academic items to be implemented immediately.

During the spring and summer semesters, the university will assess its academic health across the university with the guidance of a consultant and work as a community to develop a path forward. In the fall semester, Walker plans to announce a comprehensive list of actions for a path forward.

“What you’re going to see in the coming days is that there is not another university that’s been doing this careful and thoughtful work for the last nine months,” Walker said. “And what you’ll see emerge more and more is that Edinboro University, in terms of the way we handled ourselves and have done this work, is going to start to be held up as the exemplar for the other universities in the system.”

Walker concluded with: “Ifwedoagoodjobandwe stay together as a community and present a plausible plan (to the state system), I’m not worried about closures or mergers...Please keep in mind that we have the ability to help ourselves or hurt ourselves. Now let’s talk about where we’re going to go.”

Dakota Palmer is the news editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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