Tag: Enrollment

Enrollment, academic integrity software discussed during Regents meeting

By Autumn Bippert

Fall enrollment, housing occupancy, Title IX changes and academic integrity software were among the topics discussed during the September meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents. 

Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president for student affairs, presented the preliminary Fall 2019 enrollment as of Sept. 11. 

“Our total unduplicated headcount for the fall term is 9,300, 104 less than last year,” Dr. DeMerritt said. “We’re down 1.1 percent over last year. Not surprising, really looking at the economy continuing to maintain where it’s at, doing better and better.”

Dr. DeMerritt explained that there has been a significant uptick in online classes, with an increase of 203 students, or 7.1 percent, totaling 3,048. 

“We did see a decrease in our dual credit,” Dr. DeMerritt said. “Our dual credit decrease is due to the loss of Frenship High School to Angelo State University. Last term, they could not offer what they needed. While this term, Angelo State actually offered what they needed, and so they pulled from us.”

Dual credit enrollment saw a drop of 3.9 percent, 80 students, totaling 1,986 enrolled.

Levelland campus enrollment is 4,067, which is a decrease of 120 students, 2.9 percent, from last fall. Reese Center campus decreased by 132 students, 6 percent, totaling 2,078. The Lubbock Center campus enrollment increased by 24 students, 2.4 percent, totaling 1,079. Plainview campus decreased by 16 students, 4.9 percent, totaling 312. Online classes increased by 203 students, 7.1 percent, totaling 3,048. 

Dr. DeMerritt also presented the housing occupancy for the fall semester.

“We’re sitting at 90.6 percent occupancy,” Dr. DeMerritt said. “Of the 766 beds, we have 694 filled. Of those, eight are private rooms. So we’re sitting really strong.”

Dr. DeMerritt said that in the dorm occupancy, 54.18 percent are male students and 45.22 percent are female students, which is a change in trend to have more male than female students living on campus. Total occupancy is at 90.6 percent which is an increase from 87.9 percent from the previous year.

“Surprisingly, Gerstenberger still has nine beds open,” Dr. DeMerritt added. “The issue there is some of those folks really liked the cost that they’re paying right now for the triplets at $1,000 and don’t want to pay up the other $1,500. It’s the same way if you look at the women’s halls. Tubb has 11 empty beds.

Dr. DeMerritt also discussed several changes coming to Title IX due to HB 1735, SB 212 and HB 449 that were passed in the last Texas legislative session. He said that these changes will be made within the next month or two. One of these coming changes  is transcript notation. 

“The State of Texas has approved all disciplinary actions, a suspension or expulsion from an institution to be transcribed on the academic transcript beginning immediately,” Dr. DeMerritt explained. “They have taken collegiate registrars and admissions officers’ recommendations on transcript notation regarding disciplinary actions and have actually instilled that into law.”

Dr. DeMerritt explained that this is beneficial because institutions can see what has happened with these students who have a record of either sexual assault or heinous crimes of some type, and they can’t continue to roll between institutions. Institutions have to honor any disciplinary suspension just as they honor any academic suspension from another institution.

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president for academic affairs, discussed adding a fee of $10 to a students’ bill for academic integrity software. 

“In August, we discussed the need to invest in an academic integrity software application that would allow us to ensure the integrity of our online learning environment,” Dr. Gibbs said. “We are currently going through the state-mandated formal bid process to determine the vendor or the service. We would like to pilot this application in spring of 2020, with institution-wide implementation in the fall of 2020.”

Dr. Gibbs explained that pricing for this type of service is typically based per student per academic year and is estimated to run approximately $200,000 annually. SPC has determined that $10 per student per semester would be enough to cover the cost of the service.  

“It will be available to all of our students and to every class, even in-person classes,” Dr. Gibbs said. “I think it’s going to enhance our ability to make sure that our students are doing their own work. So our in-person classes, we’ll actually have a more secure testing environment if they move their test to an online environment with the use of the services. So in the old days when we would go in and take a class and we would take a scantron with multiple choice tests, students were cheating those in classes.”

Dr. Gibbs said that because of the algorithms that are run by the system, students are not going to be able to get away with cheating.

  Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of South Plains College, brought for consideration change in dual credit pricing. 

“We charged $210 for the first dual credit class,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “Every class thereafter, we charged $174. That’s how we structure our fee. We find ourselves increasingly competing with universities.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained that the University of Texas, Angelo State and several other colleges have been approaching high schools in the area with lower costs for dual credit classes.

He said that a decrease to $180 per three-hour course would help retain schools in the area. He also added that the fee would need to be revisited in the future to continue to compete with universities.

Dr. Satterwhite also provided an update on the construction for the Science Building. He said that the original cost estimated was $13.5 million, and SPC has raised $12.1 million through private donations. He also said that the cost is only an estimate until they begin to make bids and see where they’ll have more room to spend at.

Groundbreaking for the Science Building is estimated to be held near the beginning of December of this year.

President discusses enrollment during annual address

Enrollment, plans for remodeling the Science Building and a pathway for students to Texas Tech University were among the topics discussed by Dr. Robin Satterwhite during the third annual State of the College Address.

“The purpose of this is to communicate,” Dr. Satterwhite, president of South Plains College, explained during the address held on Nov. 2 in the Sundown Room of the Student Center on the Levelland campus. “One of the initiatives that we identified several years ago in the survey is how can we be more communicative, how can we share more information, how can we make sure that our faculty and our staff and the rest of the college also know what’s going on. Not just know what’s going on on a day-to-day basis, but to understand the strategic outlook of the college.”

Dr. Satterwhite began the address by talking about enrollment. He explained that community college enrollment is directly related to unemployment.

“At a community college, as unemployment rates go up, enrollment goes up,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “That’s something we’re always cautious about. Since 2011, the unemployment rate has dropped significantly. However, our overall enrollment at South Plains College has not. That is a really good thing.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that he attributes the steady rate of students to multiple things. But he mainly attributes it largely to the work on recruiting new students and retaining current ones.

“From fall to fall, we’ve dropped about 28 students,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We would love not to have a drop, but in consideration of everything else, dropping 28 students is really good.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained SPC is a part of the High Plains Region, even though he considers the college’s demographics and population to fit better in the West Texas Region. The High Plains Region has seen an increase of 5.38 percent in enrollment rates, while the West Texas Region has dropped 4.2 percent.

Dr. Satterwhite also discussed potential plans for renovations to the Science Building on the Levelland Campus.

“We had a donor who contacted us, an alumnus of South Plains College,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “He said he would like to give back to South Plains College. And he wants to be a part of what was going on and a part of making SPC a great place.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that the process of matching the college’s needs with the interest of the donor is really important. He said that the focus began to land on the Science Building.

“It was built in 1964,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “One of the things that’s great about South Plains College is that we have 60 years of tradition. One of the challenges about that 60 years is that we have 60-year-old buildings.”

The building is currently 48,000 square feet, and the proposed renovations include an additional 30,000 square feet and 23,000 square feet of remodeling. Dr. Satterwhite said that the projected cost of the renovation is $13.5 million.

“We are about to embark on the process of a capital campaign,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We’re going to have to do this largely in donations.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that the capital campaign will be lead with the alum donor, who has committed to half of the $13.5 million.

Dr. Satterwhite also discussed SPC developing a pathway initiative with Texas Tech.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to develop that relationship with Tech so close that Texas Tech sees us as their primary source of students,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “Not just that they will accept our students, but they will see us as our partner in trying to get students to Texas Tech.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that SPC and Texas Tech are close to another agreement, in which students who are not accepted to Tech will be directed to SPC. Tech would encourage students to attend SPC in order to transfer.

Dr. Satterwhite said that he wants students to see this as a pathway, not necessarily two different institutions that are trying to work collaboratively.

Regents discuss fall enrollment, coding acadamy

Enrollment, a new coding academy, and an update on bringing the CDL truck driving program back were among the topics discussed during the September meeting of the  South Plains College Board of Regents.

Dr. Stan DeMerritt, vice president of student affairs, presented the Fall 2018 enrollment. The total unduplicated headcount is at 9,300, 28 students fewer than a year ago. The Levelland Campus enrollment is 4,187, which is 24 less students than in 2017. The Reese Center campus has an enrollment of 2,210, 418 fewer students from last year. The Lubbock Center has 1,054, an increase of 270 students, and Plainview’s enrollment is 328, 24 less students from Fall 2017.

“For 2018, Dual Credit, Internet, and ITV all get counted into Levelland,” added Dr. DeMerritt. “That would total 9,165, compared to 2017 of 8,909. That’s up 256 from last year for Levelland, or 2.8 percent over 2017. That gain for Levelland is in the dual credit zone right there, as well as an increase of students across the Internet versus ITV.”

The total contact hours for SPC for Fall 2018 is 2,111,264. That is an increase of 167,696 hours over last year, or an 8.6 percent increase.

“So that’s very, very significant, because our funding comes off of these contact hours,” Dr. DeMerritt said. “A significant increase of that is from dual credit. We gained over 200 dual credit students. Most of those students are taking six or more hours of dual credit. Another significant increase is on the Levelland side, as science courses are all capped out. We’ve added more and more sections. But we can’t add any more sections because we have zero room in science.”

The Levelland contact hours total for 2018 is 1,556,017 hours, which is 77.73 percent of all contact. Compared to 2017, that would be 1,362,000, or a 14.2 percent increase over last year on contact hours.

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of SPC, said, “Having this increase in contact hours enrollment is really phenomenal. This is outstanding news, 15.1 percent. That means we’ve got a lot more full-time students, we have fewer part timers and fewer students taking a small number of hours, and more taking more hours. And that’s what creates the successful student. That’s what we want. That’s the student we could possibly get.”

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president for academic affairs, presented an update on the CDL truck driving school. SPC has been looking for a vendor to continue the truck driving training program that abruptly ended last year when the previous vendor pulled out at the end of the semester.

“We have asked for opinions from insurance and also from legal opinions on the contract,” Dr. Gibbs explained. “We are working through the contract and through purchasing here at the college. We hope to be wrapped up with that and bring it for the Board before our next meeting in October.”

SPC has given the potential vendor a tour of the Reese Center campus, where the program will be held.

“I think they were giddy, to say the least, about their potential for that facility to meet the needs of what their curriculum is, and also the needs for professional CDL drivers in this area,” Dr. Gibbs said. “It is a workforce development training course, but we can collect contact hours.”

Dr. Gibbs also presented plans for a Coding Academy that SPC, Texas Tech University and Lubbock Economic Development Alliance have been developing for the past 10 months. A coding academy is a shortened programing course to teach students how to write programing language for computers.
“What they do is they get them ready and prepared for the workforce in a truncated amount of time,” Dr. Gibbs explained. “I believe it’s nine weeks is the program we’re looking at. We have entered into negotiations of a contract with Austin Coding Academy out of Austin. We let them know that Austin Coding Academy is not a good name to have in this part of the country, and they have decided that it will be called Lubbock Coding Academy.”

According to Dr. Gibbs, the South Plains region has a growing IT industry. The IT industry is expected to continue to grow because companies are moving away from the high cost of living in California and Austin. They will also have access to the infrastructure needed to run an IT company on the South Plains.

“There’s a need for coders,” said Dr. Gibbs, “and this academy is going to start to meet that need. The goal is to start classes in January. My goal is to bring the contract for the next meeting. There’s a lot of pieces left to this one. We just started the negotiations, but I think we can get it done. Both of these programs are going to be high volume and produce a lot of graduates.”

The coding academy will have a flipped class environment, with most of the work done at home online. The class will meet twice a week for a two-hour time slot to work through problems and issues. They will also provide one-on-one tutoring to students who need help.

“They provide a lot of support for the students,” Dr. Gibbs said. “The best way to learn coding is to do it, and do it a lot, and that’s what they do. The first day they’re in there, they start coding. The idea is to teach classes of 20 students at a time, to keep a good student to teacher ratio. The idea is to do two sections of 20 every nine weeks.”