NEGATIVE IMPACT: Survey indicates college students say high school on UA-Little Rock campus a drawback.


UA-Little Rock i
s facing a financial pinch because of a sharp drop in enrollment and Chancellor Andrew Rogerson talked bluntly about it Friday in a campus meeting, remarks that included a reference to simmering unhappiness over the eStem charter high school that opened on campus last year.

Arkansas Public Media/KUAR reported on Rogerson’s remarks, in which he said the school faced a $9 million budget shortfall because of the enrollment drop.

“We’re down 370 students this year. 170, approximately, are first-year freshmen, and 200… didn’t come back,” Rogerson said. “Something’s not right.”

Rogerson urged that no proposed plans have been finalized, but said that a reduction in adjunct and visiting professors is almost guaranteed. Positions that are currently open on campus will also likely go unfilled for the time being.

What’s causing the drop? Rogerson said this:

Rogerson said the university conducted a survey of roughly 800 students who left UA Little Rock before completing their degrees in an effort to understand the enrollment slump. 72 percent of the students surveyed, according to Rogerson, cited the presence of eStem High School on campus as a drawback.

“We have some issues on this campus, and I believe one of them is we have to find a way to coexist with a growing eStem,” Rogerson said of the school, which opened in fall 2017.

Rogerson floated the idea of requiring student athletes to live in on-campus dormitories, which he said have about 400 open beds for the semester.

CORRECTION: A spokesman for UA-Little Rock said the Public Media report had conflated two surveys and provided this correction.

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The 72% of 800 students is erroneous.

One survey was to determine why students chose not to return to UA Little Rock. Of 800 students surveyed, 203 responded. Dr. Rogerson said the five factors that students cited were cost, time of classes, instruction, advising, and eStem. There was no particular ranking. EStem was one of the factors affecting their decision to return. There was no reference to a “72 percent.”

Later on, Dr. Rogerson referred to a second survey that addressed campus climate. Current students living on campus were surveyed. About 280 replies were received. Of those, 70% felt it was not a good idea to have a high school sharing the campus.

Tension from eStem, approved for location on campus by former Chancellor Joel Anderson, has been reported previously. The faculty wasn’t happy about Anderson’s decision and, since the school opened, it’s strained campus facilities, including food service and libraries, and added to traffic woes. A noisy group of high school students also has been called a detriment to college students by some.

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Speaking ill of eStem is risky Some of the wealthiest and most influential people in Arkansas — the Walton family and Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman among them — have been backers and financial supporters of the growing charter school operation, which has drawn students away from the Little Rock School District.