This week’s MCSG meeting began with a presentation from Vice President of Administration and Finance David Wheaton. Wheaton discussed the college’s projected budget and expenditures for next year, along with admissions prospects for the Class of 2023. Wheaton gave the same presentation to faculty on Feb. 11 and in a public forum on Feb. 13.
He started the presentation to MCSG with a discussion of Macalester’s strengths.
“We have a really good national reputation, a diverse student body, great faculty and staff, and we think the location offers the opportunity to do a lot of things both inside and outside the classroom,” Wheaton said. “Many of the schools we compete with are in small towns, mainly in the Northeast, but some in the Midwest and the South, and they just don’t have three and a half million people anywhere near their campus.”
Wheaton noted, however, that he and his fellow senior staff are concerned about Macalester’s application yield, especially compared to its 40-school peer group.
“Our application levels have plateaued in the past several years at about 6,000, which leaves limited opportunity in some ways to shape a student mix. This cycle looks pretty good – the applications that we’re seeing are around 6,500, up 10 percent from last year, which is a good thing for us.”
Macalester’s enrollment yield has stagnated at around 25 percent in the past few years, meaning that for every four students admitted to Macalester, approximately one enrolls.
While no school has an 100 percent yield, more competitive universities such as Harvard University have yields closer to 80 percent.
However, according to Wheaton, Admissions has had to take the size of the Class of 2022 into account as they admit the Class of 2023. The Class of 2022, with 621 students, is the largest in Macalester history. It will take until the current first-years graduate for total enrollment to stabilize at about 2,025.
“Right now, at 2,100 we think it’s pretty crowded,” Wheaton said. “We don’t just want to try to operate at that level.”
As of now the target size for the class of 2023 is 515 students. Last year, the target was 540 students, and 621 ultimately enrolled.
Wheaton also described the admissions challenges posed by Macalester’s location. Despite market research indicating that being in a large metro area is important for high school students, Wheaton said that some prospective students are wary of moving to the Midwest.
“Some of them have some issue with the weather,” Wheaton said. “Somehow.”
Wheaton then moved on to discuss the matter of faculty salary increases, indicating that the faculty base increase for the 2019-2020 school year is 2.5 percent. All faculty meeting the college’s performance expectations will receive the base increase, and then there will be a 0.5 percent merit increase as well. Additionally, Wheaton stated that there is another fund intended for targeted allocation for associate professors.
According to Wheaton, the college is also planning for the $15 wage increase mandated by Mayor Melvin Carter on Nov. 14. By 2020, all big businesses, including Macalester and Bon Appétit, will have to comply.
Near the end of the presentation, Wheaton revealed that Macalester’s comprehensive tuition and fees will be $68,884 for the 2019-2020 school year. This is an increase of 3.6 percent from last year. Per Wheaton, the 54 percent of the income from tuition and fees will go directly to financial aid. Wheaton concluded his presentation by introducing several construction projects for the upcoming year.
“In Carnegie, we’re actually going to create some space for the staff with a dishwasher and some sinks, which they don’t have now,” Wheaton said. “Some [funding] will also go to media services, as we think we’re behind on our A/V equipment.”
Wheaton also addressed plans to renovate classrooms in Olin-Rice Science Center.
“We are studying significant updates to the chapel to make it ADA accessible, a refresh to the first floor of Kagin and possibly another phase of the library renovation,” he said.
The projects, however, are still in the planning stages.