Daily Egyptian

Largest college focuses on enrollment and retention

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

With recent budget cuts, the College of Liberal Arts must learn to be less liberal with spending money.

The college, which is the largest on campus, was given a total budget cut of $673,000, or 2.5 percent, for this fiscal year. 

Despite the cut, Dean Meera Komarraju said the college did not cut any of its programs.

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Komarraju became dean on July 1 amid the budget cut crisis, and said the decisions regarding cuts were made before she entered office. Since then, Komarraju has worked to ensure the college can retain its programs.

Anticipating upcoming cuts, the dean’s office set aside a portion of money from savings to accommodate the loss.

Other funds come from vacant staff positions that the college chose to leave unfilled for this year. The money reserved for those salaries will go to satisfy the cut.

Komarraju said the college has, as of now, not seen a reduction of graduate assistantships — a demographic that SIU System President Randy Dunn said may experience some of the hardest hits.

While the college cannot control the state budget, Komarraju believes by focusing on aspects it can control, like enrollment and retention, the effects of the budget will become less noticeable.

“We don’t have a lot of money, but we have people. We have talented people,” Komarraju said.

To increase enrollment, the college will make more appearances at college fairs than in the past, and Komarraju asked all of the college’s 17 departments to participate.

Regarding retention, Komarraju encouraged every department to assist students on academic probation. For new students, the college is focusing on creating an increased sense of belonging by appearing at orientation and personally welcoming students.

Sierra Scroggins, a freshman studying psychology from Chicago, attended the psychology department’s welcome party. Scroggins, who wants to be a clinical psychologist in the future, said the party specifically helped her learn about how to pursue her interests.

Scroggins also met students from her major that she spends time with outside of class.

“It’s nice having people in your major and making friends with them,” Scroggins said.

Komarraju said efforts to increase alumni relations and encouraging faculty and graduate students to apply for grants. Grants and alumni donations will provide a net in case the budget should fall according to Komarraju.

“I have a good feeling that tomorrow will be a better day,” Komarraju said. “I still say, okay, let’s try to do as much of it as we can in a more frugal way, but let’s to do it.”

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @coryray_DE

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