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Mendoza considers possibility of capping future enrollment in business programs

Melissa Flanagan | Friday, February 11, 2011

The recent surge in enrollment in the Mendoza College of Business may lead to the employment of an algorithm that will limit the number of students who may declare each major in the college, Assistant Dean Samuel Gaglio said.

An algorithm has been in place for the past three years but the college has not yet had to force students to take their second choice of major. Gaglio said some of the majors, such as finance, are currently close to their capacity.

Senior A.J. McGauley, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, said he is concerned about students leaving Mendoza if they are not able to study their first choice. McGauley said the college denied an appeals process he suggested.

“They refused to set up an appeals process on the premise that if you set it up, everyone will use it,” he said. “I completely understand, but from my point of view, I’m trying to defend the students.”

McGauley said while the committee does not agree with all aspects of the algorithm, they recognize it is the only solution under current circumstances.

“We need to have the problem of over-enrollment actually manifest before we can start dealing with long-term solutions,” McGauley said.

The college will determine whether the algorithm will be used next year after current sophomores in Mendoza declare their majors by Feb. 18.

Difficulties began last spring, when a larger-than-expected number of students entered the college and quickly filled a number of required introductory-level classes.

Gaglio said he builds class capacities before freshmen are asked to declare a major. As a result, a lot of predicting goes into creating a schedule and cap for the following fall semester.

“We use the history to predict the future,” he said. “But last year’s class didn’t follow the usual pattern.”

The staff at Mendoza worked diligently with the students who were not able to register for necessary classes, and Gaglio said his office was able to accommodate everyone.

Gaglio said one likely reason for the growth of Mendoza is the college’s ranking as the No. 1 undergraduate business school in the country, according to BusinessWeek. Last year’s ranking was published shortly before freshmen were asked to declare a college.

“It’s a real possibility,” Gaglio said. “We’re planning for some additional capacity for this coming fall based on that possibility.”

McGauley said the economy could be an influence on students’ decisions to enter Mendoza.

“It’s not as much business is up, as it is arts and letters is down,” McGauley said. “People feel the need to get, for lack a better word, a more useful degree.”

Gaglio said that because the University cannot control the rankings or the economy, it is difficult to predict the number of students who are going to declare Mendoza as their chosen college.

“Is this pattern going to continue or is it going to stabilize or is it going to decline?” Gaglio said. “We can’t change the factors, so we have to be prepared.”