SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Chicago State University — still reeling from a scandal in which its president got $600,000 in severance to leave the South Side school after only nine months on the job — has only 86 total students in its freshman class this fall, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
That’s less than a tenth the size of its freshman class five years ago, when 1,058 first-year students enrolled, university figures show. And the 86 freshmen now on campus include part-time and full-time students, a university spokeswoman said.
Even with 211 students transferring in, the public university’s total enrollment has dropped to 3,578 — 2,352 of them undergrads, and 1,226 in graduate programs.
The number of students attending the school at 95th and King Drive has been dwindling for years. Two years ago, the school had 5,211 students and five years ago 6,882.
Spokeswoman Sabrina Land chalked up this year’s precipitous enrollment drop to Illinois’ budget stalemate, but said the school’s total projections fell within planned targets. She also said freshman have always been a small part of the population of the school serving non-traditional students.
“The university projected a 20% enrollment decline based on the lack of MAP grant funding and financial resources like most public universities in the state of Illinois,” she said in an email. “The university continues to focus on improving academic excellence, student experience, increasing enrollment and revenue generation. We plan to rebuild in 2017.”
Besides the CSU board recently agreeing to pay the six-figure severance sum to former president Thomas Calhoun, CSU also threatened to shut its doors last spring because of a lack of state funding. With a student body comprised of nearly all minority and older students depending on state grants to pay tuition, CSU was hit harder than other public state universities when that money didn’t come through.
Calhoun declared a state of emergency at the school and last April, announced the layoff of 300 staffers. By the time state money did arrive, it was too little, too late.