The President’s remarks at the Faculty Luncheon were true to form. One feature that we have come to expect are dizzying statistics. They are not dizzying because they are complex but, rather, because they bear so little connection to reality.
Three sentences into his remarks on Academic Renewal, President Garvey threw this out:
In the big picture our undergraduate enrollment has been fairly steady. The 15-year average is 832 students. The 5-year average is 825.
That is indeed a very big picture. And it is a big enough picture that President Garvey can produce statistics that seem to show that under him our performance has been average. But has it?
If one looks at the actual figures, Garvey’s claim is wildly untrue. 15 years ago, we brought in a class of 646 students. In the Fall of 2010, the last class recruited under Fr. O’Connell, we brought in a record 991 students. That is an increase of 53%, while our competitors grew only 14%.
President Garvey has managed to kill that momentum. Indeed, he has reversed it–while our competitors have prospered.
Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Add to that Faculty Luncheons.
As I recall Garvey’s comments at the faculty luncheon, he acknowledged an effort several years ago to shrink freshman classes to increase selectivity and perceived prestige. He also acknowledged that the strategy didn’t work economically. The original goal — a more selective university — had obvious benefits. The current goal — financial solvency — has even more to commend it.