By Joanna Armstrong
On Tuesday, Northeast’s Board of Trustees met to discuss the college’s recent decline in enrollment. “Enrollment does appear to be to some degree down this spring,” said NTCC President Dr. Brad Johnson. In a preliminary report to the board, Dr. Johnny Moore, Vice President for Student Outreach Services, disclosed that the school has experienced a 6.8% decrease in students from last spring leaving the headcount at 2,841, while semester hours have suffered a 9.9% decrease. According to the report, Northeast was not alone in the drop in students. Forty to fifty districts in Texas have experienced a decrease, and while the statewide average for the last two years currently sits at -4.6%, Northeast has a rate of -3.4%. Contributing factors, Moore said, were the closing of the dental hygiene program and the changes made to the core curriculum.
“While the enrollment pattern looks like it will be significant enough this time around, we are confident that we have ways to absorb this without substantially affecting our ability to complete our mission,” said Johnson. He assured the board that the dip in numbers was part of the “business cycle for community colleges.”
In the president’s report, Johnson spoke about President Obama’s proposal for two free years of tuition to community college students who maintain a GPA of 2.5, among other requirements. Johnson expressed his concerns with changing a “free market” to “centralized planning,” what he described as replacing local control with federal control. “I don’t approve of this at all,” said Board Chairman Dan McCauley. McCauley compared Obama’s plan to healthcare and equated it to bullying smaller schools more than larger ones. He expressed that the proposition compromised the value of the college. “I’m not hearing anyone privately that it’s likely to come about in Texas,” said Johnson.