TVCC lays off enrollment chief as numbers drop

ONTARIO – With the spring term about to begin at Treasure Valley Community College, student enrollment continues to slide.

The college reported that 1,703 students enrolled in winter term compared to 2,004 students just one year prior. 

The drop continues a trend that began in 2010. 

According to state figures, by the beginning of the current school year, Treasure Valley had lost 41 percent of its students. 

That has meant declining tuition revenue, a key source of money for the college.

College officials said Monday that as a result, the job of director of enrollment management was eliminated last week. Saga Mwiinga, the director, was laid off.

Abby Lee, college public information director, said that “given the continuing decline in enrollment, the position is being reorganized and the college will use the savings to expand its admission and recruiting efforts.”

Mwiinga didn’t return telephone messages Monday. 

He supervised a team going to area high schools to recruit from upcoming graduates. 

The team also held open houses on campus and provided campus tours to students considering the college.

He was hired in June 2016 and earned $71,250 annually. 

In July 2016, he was praised in a newspaper column by President Dana Young for providing “a compelling look at ways we can reach out to prospective students and their families to increase enrollment and really impact students’ lives.”

Although final numbers for the spring term aren’t firm, Lee said the college still expects to finish the school year with a 6 percent decline in full-time equivalent students.

College officials went into the school year budgeting for a flat enrollment. When numbers dipped in the fall, Young said the college expected the enrollment to be flat for the winter quarter.

But in late 2017, college officials set in motion another round of cuts to account for the declining tuition income.

During year-long negotiations with college faculty, college executives repeatedly said a continuing decline in enrollment was forcing cost cutting and requiring concessions in the new contract.

Lee said Monday that despite the sagging winter numbers, college officials aren’t projecting even more cuts.

“We think we are still on track for the overall 6 percent decline, which has been accounted for,” Lee said.

With high school graduations looming soon, Lee said the college is preparing to roll out a new campaign with hopes of swaying new students to enroll.

“A comprehensive digital campaign is slated to begin the third week in April to coincide with high school graduation which is a key fall enrollment recruiting period,” Lee said.

Exactly in what classes the decline is occurring the most won’t be known for two weeks, according to Lee. 

Lee said the new faculty contract gives the college the flexibility to offer more classes.

“We were able to offer even more low enrolled classes than before since faculty now teach as a pro rate rather than having the choice to cancel the class due to low numbers,” Lee said. 

With student numbers down and no enrollment manager now on the payroll, Lee said “no additional layoffs are being considered at this time.”