Provost Message on the Budget

Sent: January 31, 2024

From: Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you well and gearing up for a fantastic spring semester. There is, as always, a lot happening in California, across the higher education landscape nationally, and on campus. We continue to track the Governor’s budget and legislative response to that budget and many of us will be in Sacramento this month as part of the CSU’s advocacy week to continue to emphasize the amazing value of our work. At the national level, higher education has been challenged by the dramatic shifts that machine learning and generative artificial intelligent systems are bringing into the learning environment. I remain neither a techno-optimist or techno-pessimist; we must engage these trends and discuss how we are going to respond to them. On campus, we continue to see our investments in RSCA and in student success paying off: faculty are winning more awards, grants, and contracts than ever before, and the fall-to-spring re-enrollment of our first year students (entering F ‘23) is trending to be some of the highest rates in the last ten years at SJSU.

Given there is so much going on, I have decided to provide two key updates in this message and will follow up with other topics over the next several weeks. I want to begin, therefore, with a bit on enrollment trends and budget and course schedule. I will follow this message with weekly updates throughout February. I have a lot to share and look forward to hearing back from you as you read them. As always, I encourage you to reach out with questions and comments.

Enrollment Trends
As you know, the president made the decision to merge Enrollment Management into the Division of Academic Affairs in the fall. Our new Senior Associate Vice President, Aretha Minor, has integrated into the Academic Affairs Leadership Team and on campus quickly! Our spring enrollments look strong. For example, SJSU is enrolling more new undergraduate (up 3.5%) and graduate (up 25%) students than it has in past spring terms. Students are also taking more classes (average unit load is currently up from Spring ‘23), a result, in large part, of our deeper investment in first-year student advising and success (see more below). Unlike many northern California CSU campuses, SJSU is hovering at 100% of our California Enrollment Target for 23/24. This positions us well within the system for new enrollment dollars next year. In addition, our enrollments in self-support programs continue to climb, a result of the investments made not only in SJSU Online but in the entire portfolio of Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) and thanks to leadership of Vice Provost Ron Rogers and Associate Vice Provost Nami Shukla. According to the CSU Enrollment Data System, SJSU increased self-support enrollments 18% between Fall ‘22 and Fall ‘23. The spring semester looks equally solid as SJSU continues to find ways to meet students where they are. These programs allow us to respond to the differentiated enrollment landscape, providing students in CA (and beyond) with multiple ways to find success at SJSU. Put differently, the students in self-support are looking for programming, course schedules, and tuition models that are different from what we can offer in state-supported programs. This is what makes this catalog of programs so valuable to our students.

Budget and Course Schedule
Our enrollment efforts are helping us with this year’s budget, and while there have been some significant cuts in our divisional budget this year, through the hard work of deans, associate deans, department chairs and directors, as well as staff and faculty, we have a schedule that is meeting the needs of our students. We are doing this with only a marginal increase in class size across the division; depending on the college, course-based enrollments are up 1-3 students per lecture and seminar class (1.7 students per course at the campus level). This has been accomplished, so far, with a decrease of only 1.5% of the total number of lecture and seminar sections on campus compared to Spring ‘23. What we are seeing with a slightly tighter schedule is increased fill rates in our course sections and a growing recognition that we have to build a schedule that meets student demands and spreads courses out across a broader part of the day. This work should bring us back to the student-faculty ratio of 2017, a goal set out by the Budget Advisory Committee this year. I want to send a big shoutout to all the leaders in the division—deans, associate deans, DROs, and chairs and directors—who have had to do the lion’s share of this organizational work. Our students appear to be succeeding as well, as there appears to be no demonstrable change in fall-to-spring enrollment.

Concluding Thoughts
Despite the challenges we are facing financially this year and the reality of a rapidly changing higher education environment, I believe SJSU continues to excel and the work of the faculty, staff, and students of this campus are being noticed locally and nationally. I am confident that we will continue this trajectory even as we have to tighten some belts and manage shifts in student interest in higher education. I have a lot of faith in our ability to do so. SJSU is an amazing place. I remain privileged to be a part of this community.

I hope that you have a great start to the spring semester. I am sure there is much more to come.