DePaul’s enrollment numbers trending higher than expected: VP of enrollment management


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

Though many feared a dramatic decrease in the number of freshmen committing to DePaul, as well as continuing students, the numbers are much better than expected.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, DePaul is generally doing well in terms of projected enrollment for fall quarter, said Soumitra Ghosh, the university’s new vice president of enrollment management during Wednesday’s Faculty Council meeting.

So far, DePaul has received over 3,117 freshman deposits, which is 10 percent more than this point last year. Historically, about 12 percent of incoming freshmen end up changing plans by the time fall quarter begins, Ghosh said.

The university is “just about even” with the number of continuing students already enrolled for fall — it’s about half a percent ahead of last year’s numbers.

But the area the pandemic has hurt the university the most is in graduate student enrollment, Ghosh said, though that’s to be expected.

“Most schools are behind [in graduate student enrollment] at this point,” he said.

DePaul has 3 percent fewer graduate students planning to enroll in the fall compared to last year and is similarly behind in the number of continuing graduate students. Ghosh said this is primarily because of fewer international graduate students enrolling, which can be attributed to the pandemic and its ensuing lockdowns and state of uncertainty.

Valerie Johnson, a professor of political science, asked about the percent of admitted African American students who have committed to DePaul at the meeting. Ghosh said that the yield among this group of students was indeed declining, though it isn’t the first year that this is the case.

The promising general enrollment numbers may be in part because of DePaul’s announcement last month that it would hold some classes in-person in the fall, while some universities around the country have announced they would continue to operate fully remotely because of the pandemic.

For example, Ghosh said there was an uptick in deposits from students from California after the California State University system announced fall quarter will be done remotely. DePaul has also had a strong recruitment presence in the state for several years.

Wednesday’s meeting also saw the passage of a resolution bringing relief to already-enrolled students during the final exam period in light of the disruptive and traumatic events of the quarter, including last week’s killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis. 

The resolution requires DePaul faculty to offer students at least one of the following options:

  1. To award, at the student’s request, a final course grade on the basis of materials due by May 29, 2020, assuming that at least 70% of the graded materials, according to the learning goals of the course, had been submitted by that date.
  2. To complete the course as expected, with the understanding that the final exams and/or projects may be determined optional by faculty, and all work submitted after May 29, 2020, cannot reduce the final grade.
  3. To award, at the student’s request, an Incomplete (IN) without explanation and subject to all rules regarding incomplete grades, including a satisfactory record in the work already completed for the course. Faculty will clearly inform students about completing the material within a specific deadline, as per the IN policy. Note that degree conferral is June 22nd, and therefore graduating students would need to have their IN grade resolved prior to this date.

Though there was much discussion about how to word the resolution so it provided the most benefit to students and faculty, the council generally agreed that the focus should be on helping students. 

“The students are hurting and we need to give them something sooner rather than later,” Provost Salma Ghanem said during Wednesday’s meeting.

No resolution could be perfect for every class’s and every student’s situation, said Scott Paeth, Faculty Council chair. 

“Some people are just going to have awkward situations,” he said.

Other items approved during Wednesday’s meeting included a resolution supporting adjunct faculty during the coronavirus pandemic and a change in handbook language about what is considered faculty misconduct.