Spring 2020 Enrollment numbers dropped more than expected

Kalie Strain, Editor-in-chief

Park saw a six percent drop in enrollment for the spring 2020 semester. According to Park University President Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., Park was expecting a drop in enrollment, but was predicting the figure to be around two percent. This has resulted in some budget cuts.

“We’ve already adjusted the budget for this year for the impact of that enrollment change,” said Dr. Gunderson. “So, we’re pretty confident we have a plan in place for this year.”

A strong economy, low unemployment and smaller high school graduating classes are some of the reasons why enrollment numbers may be low, said Dr. Gunderson.

“[People] are able to find work with their current skills. They’re not going and acquiring new skills. That’s impacting everybody, not just us. It’s a national trend,” he said.

Park does have a plan for smaller high school graduating classes, and some of the focus will be on Gilbert, according to Dr. Gunderson. Missouri’s population isn’t expanding, but the population in Phoenix, Arizona, where the Gilbert campus is located, is growing.

Park is also going to continue to focus on staying reasonably priced, having small class sizes and having faculty, as opposed to graduate students, teaching all classes.

The enrollment number drop between fall 2019 and spring 2020 has resulted in budget cuts and a hiring freeze.

“We built the budget this year predicated on a certain amount of growth and so we budgeted new positions,” said Dr. Gunderson. “Now that we haven’t achieved that growth, we are not filling those positions. So, when we talk about a budget cut, what we really are saying is… we didn’t generate the surplus revenue, so we’re not going to make the surplus hires.”