September 20, 2018 | Academic Affairs

By Jason Youngfacade of the CUNY Welcome Center, 2017

As a public institution, CUNY’s funding is largely driven by enrollment numbers. As a result, a key concern of the Central Administration, as well of individual CUNY colleges, is how best to attract new students, and retain existing students. There are a wide range of specific concerns, driven by pedagogical, logistical, financial and political interests, that CUNY’s Enrollment Management Council (EMC) considers.

The EMC meets monthly at the CUNY Central office, with representatives from every college (either registrars, admissions directors, enrollment specialists, or some combination from each college), and is led by Laura Bruno, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Strategy and Management. Also attending are the CUNY Central Directors of Undergraduate Recruitment, Graduate Enrollment, Admissions Systems, Application Processing, Financial Aid, and the University Registrar.

I attend as the UFS representative, with the charge to provide input on faculty concerns related to enrollment issues.  This is where UFS representatives’ contributions are critical: on just about every issue the EMC discusses, there are matters that intersect with both Big Picture aims and daily pragmatic issues that we are wise to share with this committee.

The UFS is assembling senators interested in serving on the UFS Enrollment Management Committee, which will both review EMC topics and pro-actively identify issues to be brought to the attention of the Enrollment office at CUNY Central.  If interested in joining this committee, please contact me,  Below are some of the issues discussed at recent CUNY-wide Enrollment Management Council meetings.

  • Current and projected enrollment numbers:
    • In Fall 2018 CUNY saw an 0.8% increase in overall enrollment, including a record high number of new freshmen, though a decline in the number of transfer students.
    • Here are some additional highlights provided by Dr. Sharon Hardy, Enrollment Coordinator, Division of Enrollment Strategy and Management:

Enrollment snapshot comparison for Sept 14, 2018 compared to Sept 15, 2017:

Total headcount decrease of .6% or 1,628 students – Table 1

Undergraduate headcount decrease of .7% or 1,693 students – Table 2

Graduate student increase of .3% or 65 students – Table 3

First-time Freshmen increase of 4.3% or 1,648 students –Table 4

Undergraduate Transfers decrease of 4.5% or 1,156 students –Table 5

New Graduate students decrease of 1.4% or 124 students –Table 6

SEEK/CD decrease of 2.1% or 225 students –Table 7

High School Students decrease of 1% or 164 students –Table 8

ASAP increase of 26% or 4,839 students –Table 9

Statistics for individual colleges may be found in in Tables 1-9 which are available from the UFS by email. Note that all Snapshot data are potentially volatile (as they are adjusted every day to immediately reflect changes in enrollment) and should not be viewed as a final headcount. *

*These enrollment tables include the following abbreviations:
CBIL= “CUNY Business Intelligence Light”= Daily refreshed enrollment and course data from CUNYfirst to facilitate daily enrollment tracking.
IRDB= “Institutional Research Database” = A summary comprehensive database used for tracking long-term trends. These numbers are used as a baseline to gauge the degree of current change in historical context.

  • Michael Shields, Senior Research Analyst for Enrollment Management discussed a multi-year trend in decreasing transfer student enrollment (lower in the senior colleges; an even more severe decline in transfer enrollment in the Community Colleges). EMC discussed possible strategies to better engage academic affairs so that more faculty may be available to advise and guide students more consistently through the summer months.  There is a sizable number of students who enroll but fail to register for classes, especially among first generation and non-traditional students.  This drop-off might be stemmed by more continuous advising attention to provide guidance at every challenging point for new students.
  • Individual colleges monitor their enrollment as this determines their allocated budget for the following year. There is ongoing concern at various colleges over the specific mix of enrollment data used to determine their projected budget allocation  CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Matt Sapienza will be visiting each campus by October to discuss these projections.

Part 2 of this blog, look for it next week, will include EMC considerations of diversity and inclusion, campus open houses, adult learner re-engagement, and a new enrollment data dashboard in development.  For any questions and concerns about enrollment, please email

Jason Young is a Professor of Psychology at Hunter College, a member of the UFS Executive Committee, and represents the UFS on the CUNY Enrollment Management Council.

The UFS Blog is a forum for CUNY Faculty, and welcomes the expression of all points of view.  Please send submissions to Stasia Pasela, Editor.

Image: tiacobos, 2017