You have hired a new employee for your business.  The employee comes with great recommendations from your primary stockholder.  He made a good impression during the interview process.  Your management team has assured you that THIS is the guy who can straighten out all the problems that have seemed to plague you recently.  Of course, you didn’t bother to do serious reference checks, nor did you go through a proper employment agency to find this guy, but you have no need to worry. After all, your stockholder has reviewed all of the applications and has assured you that this is the candidate that can work a miracle for you.

The employee comes on board and immediately proceeds to clean house. Out goes your traditional model. In comes his “new, improved” version.  Of course, he hasn’t taken the time to understand exactly what has made your business so successful. He hasn’t talked to stakeholders in your business, nor has he consulted with your employees to determine how your model operates, what its strengths and weaknesses are, or who your consumers are. All he needs to know is that he is in charge and your stockholder (who has no experience in your industry) is backing his decisions.  He has promised you that all of his changes will deliver.  You won’t lose sales, you won’t lose your stakeholders, you won’t lose significant employees – you’re going to see overwhelming success.

What do you do when he not only fails to deliver, but fails miserably and you realize you’re being manipulated? After all, he never fails to tell you what you want to hear, but things aren’t looking too good.

Final Fall enrollment numbers were announced on the Hill this week.

Fall 2012

1211 Traditional on the ground students

317 On-line students

1444 CAPP students

2972 Total students

The administrators on the Hill make interesting use of semantics.  In an article on the Shorter website, dated September 6, it was reported that “1528 traditional students are currently enrolled at Shorter”. The problem is, that report is not quite accurate, nor does it reflect the real state of the institution.

From the announcement, one might logically assume that there are 1528 bodies on the Rome campus. That would be an erroneous assumption. The report of 1528 TRADITIONAL students combines the traditional students – 1211, plus the online students – 317.   The announcement goes on to say “This is the third consecutive year that Shorter’s fall enrollment as topped 1,500.” Well, not so fast, Dr. Dowless. Let’s examine that claim.

Here are the Fall enrollment numbers from the 2011-12 Fact Book.


Prior to 2009, Shorter had no online programs. Though entering late into the online or distance education business, Shorter’s administrators realized that there was a vast market of students of all ages who lived nowhere near the Rome campus who were potential source of much needed income. In June of 2009, Shorter began offering an array of online general education courses but no 100% online degree programs.

In Fall 2010, Shorter reported 1555 Main campus students and 107 online students.  The following 100% online degree programs were offered: Associate of Science (AS), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and the Masters of Accountancy degree. While some of the Fall 2010 online enrollment might be attributed to off-campus students, since the program was new and relatively unknown to outside markets, the vast majority of fall students were still on-campus (traditional) students in hybrid programs which offered both on-line and on-ground courses.  It made sense, then, to combine the numbers of actual bodies on the Shorter campus with the numbers enrolled in the Online Program under the MAIN category.

 In the Fall of 2011, a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) was offered as 100% online. Online statistics were reported as 138 – a net gain of 31 online students. Shorter began to market its online program and distance learners became a focus. Now four degrees could be obtained online, by students of all ages. Shorter had no room for additional students on the Rome campus, but the internet made it possible for the world to come to Shorter via the Internet. (Since Fall 2011, a 100% online degree in Sports Management (BBA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Services degree has been added.)

It is important to note here that in academia, students under age 23 are considered “traditional” students, while the students over age 23 are considered NON-traditional students.

 Since the stand-alone number of non-traditional distance education students (those over age 23 and not on the Shorter campus) is not reported, we have no way of knowing how many of the 138 online students reported in Fall 2011 fall into this category, but since we know that Shorter was already bursting at the seams with residential students, it must be assumed that at least a portion of those reported fall into the non-traditional and/or off-campus category.  The gain that was reported was not significant enough to create a separate category for distance students and so the number was again incorporated into the MAIN category.

The Fall 2011 enrollment is reported as 1696 in the MAIN category. Even if we attributed all of the Online Program numbers as non-traditional/distance students, Shorter still had 1558 students on the campus.

Here is what the enrollment for Fall 2011 would most likely look like, if it had been reported as this year’s figures were:

1558 Traditional on the ground students

169 On-line students (combines Main and CAPPS numbers of online)

1975 CAPP students

3702 Total students

That’s 1,558 traditional, residential students on the Rome campus.

There are not 1,528 traditional students enrolled in Shorter this year. There are barely 1,200. That, dear readers, points to a loss of approximately 300 students from the Rome campus alone.

What we find interesting is that Shorter seems to confirm that number in a collection of brochures that we have obtained from potential students for an event known as Saturday at Shorter. The April 2012 event indicates a student body of 1500.  The October 2012 event indicates a student body of 1200. Just to assure yourselves that this is not a typographical error, note that the teacher/student ratio in the April brochure is 1/13, the October brochure reads 1/12.

Try multiplying 300 times $27,400 tuition per year. That’s a significant loss of income to a business.

Try imagining the effect of losing close to a quarter of your business inventory. Losing 300 students is a far cry from the loss of only 167 students that one employee reported to his employers.

Try misleading the marketplace, your stockholders, your stakeholders, and your employer with numbers that don’t match the real state of your business.

And we haven’t even looked at the CAPP numbers yet. Stay tuned.

6 responses to “SHORTER BY THE NUMBERS

  1. Another outstanding and well researched post from Save Our Shorter. Congratulations. Please continue to speak the truth.

  2. And the public proclamations continue to be Shorter is thriving. Why I have even heard reports of trustees remarking how SHARP Dowless is, and how any negative opinions are LIES. Well, numbers do NOT lie, and the truth they tell will really be INERRANT!

  3. Impressive analysis and digging but very sad news. Thank you for all your work to save Shorter.

    We all need to hang in there, stay together and pray hard.

  4. After reading several articles on the Save Our Shorter website there seems to be a lot of numbers thrown around.

    According to the Save Our Shorter website, the traditional enrollment is 1,211 for Fall 2012 and it was reported on the Shorter website and the Roman newspaper that the traditional enrollment was 1,528

    Can someone please report what two groups need to be compared then to see how much enrollment has really dropped?

    • Thank you for asking, Roman One. We are comparing the actual number of students on the Shorter campus as compared to the actual number who were on the campus last year. As you can see from the statistics above, while Shorter gained numbers of online students, the number of on campus students dropped considerably.

      Why is this important? Here’s what we know about online students. and these statistics. Many online students are not Full Time Enrollment. They may only be taking one course,and/or they may be enrolled full time at another college, but need one specific course during a specific semester in order to graduate. While they may be taking courses, they aren’t necessarily traditional (college age) students. Perhaps the most significant statistic, which we cannot provide, is how many of the current Main numbers, which combines traditional, on-campus students and online, are FTE – Full Time Enrollment. Fewer FTE students means a significant hit to the revenue to the university.

      When the number of on-campus students drops, that endangers programs on the campus. As you can imagine, fewer numbers in classes means less dollars to pay professors and the associated costs of offering that course. Your profit margin drops and at some point, it simply isn’t profitable to offer the course.

      So while cumulative numbers may not look bad, a loss of 300 on-campus students means a significant lost of revenue to the university and endangers the existence of certain majors/course offerings.

  5. I wonder if the Rome News-Tribune, ABP or Save OBU are going to cover this and the subsequent article about CAPP?

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