Message to Faculty and Staff on Enrollment

Friday, March 6, 2009

TO: Faculty and Staff

Over the next few weeks, thousands of students seeking admission to San José State's fall 2009 freshmen class will receive news from us on the status of their applications. Many applicants, 10,680 individuals, will receive admission packages along with letters confirming their provisional acceptances. At nearly the same time, 4,400 additional qualified freshmen applicants will learn that we cannot accommodate them this fall, and will be encouraged to seek alternatives.

Turning away prospective students is a tremendously difficult step, one rooted in the financial crisis that has gripped our state, nation and world. I am writing today to update you on how the economic downturn has affected our admissions process and to ask for your help explaining our dilemma to students, parents and others who value and understand the integral role we play in educating Silicon Valley's workforce in support of our regional and state economy.

First, a reminder of how we reached this juncture. In recent years, funding has declined at the same time we experienced a spike in the number of graduating high school seniors. So we have more demand for our services than ever while our resources, principally state general funds, are stagnant -- if not shrinking. These circumstances forced us to choose between compromising educational quality and limiting accessibility.

On November 20, 2008, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed decided to preserve educational quality by declaring systemwide impaction, essentially capping enrollment. The chancellor asked every campus to adhere to 2007-2008 enrollment targets because the state had failed to provide additional funding since that time. For San José State, this means a nine percent reduction in enrollment, which equates to a headcount of approximately 29,750 in 2009-2010, down from a headcount of approximately 32,750 in 2008-2009.

Under systemwide impaction, each CSU campus has a designated local area, which is Santa Clara County in San José State's case. Local applicants are given preference over other applicants as a means of providing students statewide with access to at least one CSU campus.

Here is the good news. We offered admission to all qualified freshmen applicants attending Santa Clara County high schools. We also offered admission to all qualified freshmen applicants who attended high schools outside Santa Clara County and who applied prior to November 20 when Chancellor Reed declared impaction.

However, we will be unable to accommodate freshmen applicants who attended high school outside Santa Clara County and applied after the chancellor declared impaction. In December, we warned all members of this group of this possibility, and encouraged them to consider alternatives, including CSU East Bay and community colleges.

Here is how impaction will affect other students and applicants:

  • Over time, continuing students in good standing should benefit from impaction. Reducing the number of new students on campus will allow us to concentrate our resources on existing students.
  • We will admit nearly 4,200 community college transfers. This group includes upper-division transfers from local community colleges and non-local upper-division transfers who applied before November 20.
  • We are still working through admissions for non-local upper-division transfers who applied after the chancellor declared impaction.
  • Our provost is working with the dean of each college to consider admissions for graduate students and credential candidates.
  • We were unable to admit lower-division community college transfers or applicants seeking second bachelor's degrees. We notified all such applicants of this in December, and urged them to seek alternatives.

Our goal is to reach an enrollment number that matches the state funding we receive. This is perhaps the first time in history that state budget cuts have forced us to turn away qualified applicants, and this will cause consternation in our community. Again, I am writing you so that you may better understand why we have taken this unprecedented step.

This process is complicated, and we ask that you share your questions and concerns with Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Larry Carr at 408-924-1166. Please refer individual applicants in need of assistance to Interim Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions Deanna Gonzales at 408-924-2013.

Sincerely,

President Jon Whitmore