Largest population to date impacts campus in different ways

Sept. 16, 2013

April Wefler
[email protected]

With its largest population to date, UCCS currently has 10,500 enrolled students, not including those enrolled in extended studies.

The influx has affected multiple organizations on campus, but the administration maintains UCCS is prepared to meet the challenge.

Jeff Davis, executive director of the University Center, said the bookstore did have some books that went out of stock, but “that happens no matter how many students there are.”

“With an increase in online orders, the lines in the bookstore haven’t been too long for the workers to handle,” Davis said. “I think that helped expedite the process of getting students moving in and out effectively.”

“I think that as we’ve had the increase in students, that’s impacting everything from classroom availability, to parking, to books, to getting through food service. The campus is doing everything we can to mitigate those circumstances,” he added.

As reported in the Sept. 2 issue, a 1,227-stall parking garage will be completed in March. While construction is ongoing, parking has been strained with 5,195 parking spaces on campus and 1,600 freshmen.

Jim Spice, executive director of Parking and Transportation, estimated about 100 parking spaces at the upcoming Lane Center have been lost because of construction.

An additional 100-150 spaces have also been lost south of the Lane Center, also for construction-related reasons. Lot 15, a new parking lot north of the Four Diamonds Complex, added 440 spaces to help offset the loss.

Russell Saunkeah, Sodexo general manager, wrote in an email that The Lodge expanded the dining facility to accommodate 80 more seats.

In addition, Sodexo repurposed tables and chairs from the old Overlook Café for the new facility and changed the Lodge dining format to serve from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays. Sodexo has also had to increase pizza production and the amount of sub bread rolls they bake each day for Sub Connection.

“Clyde’s has been very busy as well, with the usual lunch rush lasting well into the mid-afternoon,” he said.

“To date, we are experiencing anywhere from a 100-150 guest increase for lunch and dinner, about 50-60 for breakfast,” he said. In addition, there has been a 13 percent increase in resident meal plans.

“The campus is doing everything we can to mitigate those circumstances,” Davis said.

Sarah Hook, a senior majoring in English secondary education, disagreed. “I wonder if we have enough resources to take care of the students we have. I feel a little stiffed on parking,” she said. “I wish we were taking care of all our students.”

When the campus first opened in 1965, enrollment was more than 1,000 students. Four years ago, when Homer Wesley, vice chancellor for student success and enrollment management, started working here, the enrollment was more than 8,000 for the fall semester.

Wesley said the administration was prepared for the influx of students. “[W]e tried to anticipate what that growth would look like and then we tried to plan for that by putting in more faculty and staff.”

However, despite preparedness for more students, the administration was pleased with the results. “I think we’ve had good success, but I think the university has really planned toward that end and worked to make it happen and the fact that it actually worked, you could say that it was a pleasant surprise,” Wesley said.

“We’d like to grow, but we wanna do that in a way that maintains the personal touch that people view as being part of UCCS’ character. We want to grow, but we don’t want things to change.”

Ralph Giese, director of Residence Life and Housing, said there are still spots available and that housing has worked through its waitlist.

He explained, if the campus hadn’t added the 192 beds this year, “I don’t think we would’ve been able to accommodate everybody at this point.”

However, The Scribe reported in the Sept. 2 issue that the chancellor said the school had to turn away 300 students because housing was not available for them.

In a follow up interview, Giese said, “We had a substantial waitlist; I don’t know if it ever reached 300. I am not aware of that” and added that a different media outlet had misquoted the chancellor, even though there was no mention of that outlet or its article in the conversation with Giese.

Giese said that Tamara Moore, director of marketing for auxiliary services, told him the outlet had misquoted. However, Moore said she told Giese that she wasn’t sure when the chancellor made the comment or what she was referring to.

“We never had 300 students on the waitlist,” Moore told The Scribe.

The Centers for Academic Excellence are also bracing for the increased enrollment.

Barbara Gaddis, executive director of the office of first year experience and student retention, said the excel centers have seen a 13 percent increase in students from where they were this time last year.

Already, the centers have been visited by 7,222 students, which doesn’t include online tutoring, classes or workshops.

The excel centers have tried to adapt to the increase. “We’re working with housing to see if we can work with housing students in housing. We’re doing tutoring in the housing areas,” she said.

Gaddis said the centers are also hiring more tutors and trying to get groups together. “We’re trying to go into the classroom, so there aren’t as many people in the centers.”

She said the Communication Center is working with the freshmen seminar classes and going into the classes. In addition, the centers are having supplemental instruction and review sessions.

“We’re trying to keep the crowd out. We’re trying to be really creative,” Gaddis said.

Aimée Morgado, Writing Center consultant, said the center is seeing a wider variety of students earlier in the semester.

“They’re coming in earlier. Usually, the first couple of weeks are slower than this,” added Hook, the student.

The Writing Center and Oral Communication Center still had appointments available toward the end of last week, but the Oral Communication Center said students should start making appointments ahead of time starting this week.

Within the last year, the number of students awarded financial aid has also increased by 10.8 percent. In addition, the financial aid applications have increased by 10.9 percent.

Despite the increase, Jevita Rogers, director of Financial Aid, said because financial aid is cyclical and she has been working with it for the last 22 years, the financial aid office was prepared for the influx of students.

The entire office is “all hands on deck” during what Rogers calls the fall start-up. She said people who usually work in IT have been required to answer the phones just like the other employee in the office.

Although she said the financial aid office has been overwhelmed, “overwhelmed is not a bad thing when it comes to financial aid.”

However, Rogers said that as federal and state funding dwindles, the number of students applying for financial aid increases. “I’d like to win the Power Ball and create a lot of scholarships,” she said, adding the work study program is popular.

“There isn’t as much work funding as we’d like,” she said. “Higher education is imperative to a better country.”

Wesley said he hopes UCCS “grows at a steady rate, which can be well supported by the university.” He said the growth is going to be defined by maintaining the experience offered now.

“What we do know is that there are a large number of students that are here now and the retention of those students is improved from years past. The quality of those students is very, very strong.”

Wesley said the growth of the campus will be defined by the people that are already here and their ability to be successful.

“That’s really the best measure of growth is that you’ve got a great group of students that are here. We’re gonna see growth just because of our current enrollments and the support that we’re able to offer to students.”