When sophomore business major Alex Zsenyuk walked around campus for the first time since returning to school this week, his first reaction was “Wow.” Zsenyuk, who has been attending Portland State for about a year and a half, said that he can feel the difference in the number of students roaming the halls and South Park Blocks. “It feels like there are a lot more people,” Zsenyuk said.
Enrollment on the rise
When sophomore business major Alex Zsenyuk walked around campus for the first time since returning to school this week, his first reaction was “Wow.”
Zsenyuk, who has been attending Portland State for about a year and a half, said that he can feel the difference in the number of students roaming the halls and South Park Blocks.
“It feels like there are a lot more people,” Zsenyuk said.
Zsenyuk’s senses are not deceiving him, as Portland State has an influx of new students this fall, resulting in a substantial increase in enrollment.
The buzz around the university is that Portland State will have over 27,000 students enrolled fall term. However, enrollment is not quite at that level yet.
According to David Burgess, an institutional research analyst at PSU, the total enrollment for the first day of classes this fall was 24,765 students, which is an increase when compared to enrollment at the same point in years past.
Burgess said that about another 2,500 students are expected to enroll by the end of fall term.
Taking the additional students into account, enrollment is projected to creep to 27,118 students, Burgess said. That would be a 3.85 percent increase over the final enrollment figure for fall 2007, which was 26,113 students.
With the rising number of students enrolled at Portland State, the Vanguard spoke with students, an administrator and the student body president to get their views on how more students might change the university.
The student leader’s take: Hannah Fisher, student body president20, junior, liberal studies
Fisher believes rising enrollment is a battle PSU will be forced to deal with years into the future. The main point of contention, Fisher said, will be Portland State trying to uphold its access mission with excellence.
“This figure represents how imperative it is for Portland State to be an access institution,” Fisher said.
Increased enrollment is a “great thing,” according to Fisher, who thinks that the legislature needs to understand that with additional students, Portland State will need more funding to compensate.
Fisher cautions that if Portland State continues to grow, additional funding will fall on the shoulders of the legislature or students will be forced to pay with higher tuition rates.
While some students question whether campus will become overcrowded, Fisher believes there is plenty of classroom space available and is not worried about it.
Advantages: -Diversity-More opportunities for civic engagement-Additional opportunities to build a campus community-Opportunity to educate more studentsDisadvantages: -Fear that legislature will not match rising enrollment with more funds-Not enough on-campus housing to support growth
The administrator’s take: Jackie Balzer, vice provost for student affairs
When Balzer thinks about the growing number of students attending Portland State, her first thought is of excitement.
“It’s very exciting to welcome new students from around the city, state, nation and world,” Balzer said.
Balzer, who has also worked at the University of Oregon and Oregon State, said everything is going well in terms of getting such a large number of students, many of them new, situated with matters such as classes, housing and business transactions.
With the largest enrollment of any university in Oregon, PSU offers a learning experience that is not as rich at other schools, Balzer said.
“It is so rewarding to have a wide, diverse student population,” Balzer said. “It enhances the educational experience.”
Balzer said a chief concern among many administrators and faculty at Portland State is ensuring the quality of education remains high, even with the rising enrollment numbers.
Many are monitoring whether students can pursue a degree in a timely manner, classrooms have enough seats and students are getting into classes, among other concerns, Balzer said.
“We are an institution with great momentum and have to keep that going with quality,” Balzer said.