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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston hopes to add a net total of 544 new students next fall

2003-2011 Fall Semester Enrollment



The university’s 25-year master plan calls for constant, gradual growth of the student body each year. The university hopes to enroll a total of 16,285 students by fall 2012, an addition of 544 new students from fall 2011. Similar growth increments are planned for the next 15 years.

The 15-year strategic plan justifies the university’s focus on growing the student body to “optimize cash generation and meet the university’s objective of becoming a major urban public research university.” It explains that in 2009 our total enrollment numbers looked low in comparison to 15 other peer institutions, like the University of Houston. Total enrollment at UMass Boston in 2009 was 14,912. The average enrollment of the peer group was 23,202.

Lisa Johnson, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management described the population growth as “targeted and strategic,” aimed at “growing our grad student population and improving our research standing, as well as having a student body that reflects our urban mission and maintains the community that we have here.”

In order to maintain the diversity on which the university prides itself, the enrollment management department employs a multi-pronged method of marketing. Johnson said, “We just try to get our name out there effectively in all markets. The approach that we try to take is getting out to as many urban environments as we can. We try to bring students to the campus, [by hosting] a lot of events so that they will come to the campus.” She said that the campus itself, its location and layout, and its students, are often the most effective sellers of UMass Boston.

According to Johnson, the enrollment department does not target any particular population of students. She claimed, “We look for students where this will be the best fit. We want potential students to be exposed to enough information so that the student can decide if the place is right for them.”

Despite the university’s attempts to generate a population with varied interests, a large amount of expected students will enter the biology program. To handle problems posed by a sudden student influx into specific areas, a sub-committee called the “planned growth committee” works to find the necessary solutions.

Associate Professor of Biology Brian White is “cautiously optimistic” about plans that are in place to accommodate the rush on Biology 111 and 112. He said, “We were at the point that accepting even one more student than last fall’s 409 would require many changes, including the development of a new lab section at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000, the hiring of additional teacher’s assistants, more prep staff and prep space, and the addition of a night class in Biology 111.”

White believes that the Bio 111-112 program will be capable of accommodating 720 students, “assuming we receive all these resources from the university.”

He wants to keep class sizes down so that proper support can be provided to all students. As he explained, “With all the new equipment and staff, 720 is the most we could fit without adding a Saturday section, because in a class of 400 students, if 95 percent of them fully understand an assignment, that is still 20 people who do not understand, and need extra support. At a certain point we would have to give [fewer] assignments, or otherwise lessen the program’s effectiveness.”

White said that he has not had formal interaction with the “planned growth committee” but stated, “My sense is that everyone is on the same page and acting in good faith, but that does not mean that the results will be ideal. Resources are limited, and mine is not the only growing department.”