Projected enrollment concerns studentsBy Charles Scarborough | 11/10/2010 9:01am
UA President Dr. Robert Witt set the University’s enrollment goal at 35,000 at a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday. In an Oct. 22 interview, Witt told the Crimson White that his focus is on quality over quantity.
"I think The University of Alabama over the next five years will continue to grow, but at a much slower rate," Witt said. "I think we will continue to grow stronger in terms of the quality of the incoming freshman class. I think our national rankings will continue to strengthen."
Additionally, the new enrollment goal raises concerns about the ability to house an additional five thousand students on campus. Witt also stated in the same interview that construction focuses are now shifting to renovation of the existing facilities and not building new ones.
“We will continue to invest substantially in our physical facilities," Witt said. "Our attention will shift in emphasis toward the renovation of existing facilities more than the construction of new facilities."
Witt said the board approved the construction of a new residence hall, but upon its completion, Rose Towers will be demolished.
"The board approved of a new residence hall – three wings, 984 beds," Witt said. "When that’s complete, Rose Towers will come down."
UA Director of Media Relations Cathy Andreen said several factors played into the decision to set the new enrollment goal.
"The administration looked at a wide variety of factors including the campus infrastructure in setting the goal of 35,000 students," Andreen said.
Andreen did not to go into detail on those factors, but said there are several construction projects that will allow the University to handle the student increase over the next decade.
"With the completion of the Science and Engineering Quad — Phase III is currently under construction and Phase IV will be underway before Phase III opens — and the new North Bluff Residential Community, which will house 971 students, the University will be able to accommodate the increase in enrollment.
"In addition, the recent renovation of Lloyd Hall and the planned renovation and expansion of Russell Hall as well as renovation of current College of Engineering space that will be freed up for new uses when the Science and Engineering Quad is complete will provide space for the increased number of students."
Parrish Mosley, a senior majoring in advertising, said he thinks the University already has a crowding issue and more students will contribute to that problem.
"I think [the University of] Alabama has too many students as is, and adding 5,000 more students will obviously make it worse," Mosley said.
Reid Peacock, a junior majoring in advertising, said he hopes the influx of students doesn't erase the strides the University has made in becoming an elite academic institution.
"I like that UA has increased its academic standards over the past few years, I hope that this enrollment push doesn't bring Alabama back to being a mediocre college," Peacock said. "Honestly, I probably would have come here regardless, because I love the Tide, but it doesn't hurt that by the time I graduate people will respect Alabama as a decent school. I don't want that to change in a few years"