The Lumberjack student newspaper
Graphic by Valen Lambert

Cal Poly Humboldt project 2,000 more students for Fall semester, yet only delivered 98


by Brad Butterfield

Back in March, the university projected over 2,000 more students for the Fall 2023 semester than from the Fall 2022 semester; in reality, there are only 98 more students enrolled this fall.

On March 7th, the University Resources and Planning Committee (URPC) had an Open Forum to discuss budget recommendations and feedback. In that forum enrollment for fall was projected to increase by about 2,000 students to have around 7,449 total students. However the current data from the university’s Institutional Research, Analytics, and Reporting shows only 5,964 total enrolled students. This difference is meager compared to last fall when total enrollment was 5,866.

Of the nearly 6,000 students in attendance, there are 959 new freshmen undergraduates and 758 transfer undergraduates. These are preliminary totals, as final enrollment data will be available after the add/drop deadlines on September 18th.

According to the university website, “Cal Poly Humboldt would expect to see enrollment increase 50% within three years and 100% within seven years.” At current growth of enrollment rates, it appears unlikely for the university to meet this goal. 

Citing a hectic start to the semester, Chrissy Holliday, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success, could not comment on the low enrollment numbers and advised the Lumberjack to talk to university Communications Officers. 

 Although there is growth, it is attributed to the university’s transition to becoming California’s third polytechnic campus. This transition promised $433 million of one-time funding and $25 million in ongoing base support, a name change, a host of new majors and hundreds of new on-campus dorm rooms. While new majors like cannabis studies (BA) and applied fire science and management (BS) have been added for the first time this fall, additional on-campus housing has not yet been achieved. 

“The University expects this to be its second consecutive year of fall semester growth, and that is something to celebrate. Given the fact many colleges and universities in California and across the nation continue to suffer enrollment losses,” Grant Scott-Goforth, the university’s Communications Specialist said. Cal Poly Humboldt aims to bring enrollment up to 7,000 students by Fall of next year.

The expansion of Cal Poly Humboldt is inevitable. At least two satellite properties west of highway 101 have been purchased by the university and the ‘Craftsman’s Mall’ project promises 800 new beds in the coming years. 

“The Student Housing Project now in construction is expected to be completed in Fall 2025, with others rolling out in the coming years,” Scott-Goforth said.

Although there is a lack of growth in enrollment, the university is still suffering. In the spring semester of 2023, an already understaffed University Police Department had to provide shuttle service to students housed in hotel rooms miles north from campus, while student-led housing protests ignited in the quad in the early part of the semester. Growing pains were felt by students and faculty alike. It’s apparent that the university is under strain from the exponential growth it’s undertaking, however this has not caught the school off guard.

“Leadership knew that the first application cycle as a polytechnic would be different, and that it would take some time to develop the right infrastructure to capitalize on the increased admissions interest in the institution,” Scott-Goforth said.

All this to say, welcome home to all of the new Lumberjacks and a warm (probably overcast) welcome back to the seasoned ‘jackers of Cal Poly Humboldt.

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