Tech announced this past December that it has reached an all-time high in enrollment with 18,000 total students. The Freshman Experience programs, freshman leadership programs and other undergraduate programs are to be congratulated for the improvement in freshman retention rates that are partially responsible for the high numbers. Graduate admissions also accounted for parts of the growth, increasing the number of TAs and tutors available to the multitude of students now remaining at Tech.
However, student population growth should be for the betterment of Tech, not simply for the sake of higher numbers. Unplanned growth could put unnecessary strain on already overextended facilities and amenities on campus. Classes of 300 serve neither the students nor the professor, and there are limited resources for new professors or buildings. Last year’s housing shortage illustrated just how quickly a perceived positive for the Institute could become a negative, as over 200 students were without beds.
The prestige of a Tech degree is in part due to the elite standards of admissions, and growth should not be viewed as a worthwhile exchange for qualified students. While the accommodations that ease the transition into Tech are benefits for individual students, the pride of alumni rests in graduating from a more difficult institute than their peers, not in graduating from an institute with more students. Unless there is a sudden influx of resources for campus growth and new professors and amenities are added, a cap on student capacity should be considered.
$350,000, roughly enough to pay for 14 years of out-of-state tuition or 70 years of in-state tuition and fees, was discovered missing during the continuing procurement card (P-card) audits conducted by the Board of Regents. This second embarrassing scar on Tech’s financial record follows the earlier, comparatively minor loss of $40,000 and begs the question as to how no previous internal audits caught the theft, which took place over a period of six years.
The statewide audit that caught the two discrepancies has not been a financial fixture in the past. However, if Tech’s own financial planners and oversight systems are continually unable to catch such gross misuses of state funds and tuition money, perhaps it should become a permanent addition. It is an injustice to every paying student and to every honest employee that such fraud could take place unchecked.