University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman has stepped back from his “ambitious” enrollment goal of 30,000 students by 2017.
Instead, Perlman told staff in an email Thursday, he wants to shoot for sometime around 2020 to reach the number.
Pushing back the date is “not in any way backing away from our ambition to reach 30,000,” Perlman wrote, and he doesn't believe UNL should necessarily cap its goal there.
“But I do think we will be better served by a more gradual and sustainable path that allows faculty, advisors and student success professionals to scale up their efforts to support academic excellence as we grow,” he said.
This year's freshman class grew by 12 percent over last year, the biggest jump in the University of Nebraska system. But overall enrollment only grew by about 240 students to 24,445.
The university would have needed to grow by an average of 1,388 students annually to hit the 30,000 mark by 2017. Growth needs to be accomplished without diminishing the student experience, he said.
On Friday, Perlman said it was “realism” that caused the change.
“The goal seemed ambitious. It's always seemed ambitious to me from the day I announced it,” Perlman said. “I think it's energized the campus. But I don't think we ought to kill ourselves to reach it.”
The biggest hindrance was building up the infrastructure in recruitment, Perlman said. It took about two years to do that, and that brought success this year with a big freshman class, he said. But other infrastructure concerns remain, such as classroom space and projects planned but not yet completed like converting Love Library to a learning commons.
“Our primary objective is to make students successful,” Perlman said. “We'd feel more comfortable if we gave ourselves a little more time.”
Perlman, who set the goal in 2011, hinted in his state of the university speech earlier this year that the target might be too ambitious.