September 6, 2o17
It’s hard not to be excited about attending UCCS right now.
Our campus is growing significantly thanks to an influx of new students, new housing and new opportunities for learning in the form of the Ent Center for the Arts, to open in January, and the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center, which will begin construction next June.
Last fall, there were over 12,000 students enrolled at UCCS, a seven percent increase from the fall 2015 semester, according to an article by Gazette reporter Debbie Kelley.
Chancellor-emerita Pamela Shockley Zalabak attributed the higher number to “high quality programs” and “financial accessibility.”
We know what these developments mean for UCCS: a more attractive campus for prospective students and their families, along with bringing out tourism opportunities for the city of Colorado Springs.
But with the excitement of growth on campus, a question is left for students who have been here either before the growth started happening, or was already underway: what does it mean for students?
With growth come new academic and professional opportunities for students to advance in what they came to do at UCCS – get an education and apply to what they love.
For instance, students will be able to obtain clinical experience while they study in the Health Science Department at the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center. VAPA students will be able to work with higher quality equipment and more visiting artists who will help them to refine their craft at the Ent Center for the Arts.
Our academic programs, which have received national honors, like the Beth-El College for Nursing and Health Sciences that received the award for Best Online Program in Graduate Nursing this year, will continue to grow and improve with the addition of these new facilities.
The expansion also leads to multiple different hands-on opportunities for majors giving students the chance to work within their field before graduation, an opportunity not available at every university
This means that UCCS is gaining a more prestigious reputation; saying “I graduated from UCCS” will hold more weight to it.
But the negative side of growth for the university should also be considered.
With the increasing numbers of incoming freshmen, the compass curriculum and general education courses may become impacted. This may lead to more classes that have to be added to the curriculum, which means more faculty and staff hires, more salaries to be paid and a possible increase in tuition for students.
In April, the University of Colorado Board of Regents approved a 3.99 percent raise in tuition for incoming and transfer students at UCCS already, according to a Communique article. This could draw students away from the university, instead of toward it.
Parking, which is seen as a problem for some students already, may also be negatively impacted.
With more resident students, or those who live on campus, comes a need for more housing options. But UCCS is also still mostly a commuter school – 86 percent of students who attend UCCS do not live on campus – which means that more lots may have to be built to accommodate the growth.
We bring up these points not to sway students, faculty and staff who are excited, but to ask UCCS to think critically about the future of our campus in a time of such excitement.
It’s hard to tell what changes we’ll see when this growth comes to UCCS in the future, but what we do know is that it will change the campus in both positive and possibly negative ways.
While an adjustment period is to be expected, student growth can only mean the expansion of our campus, and that is exciting enough.