I’m not sure if I should be annoyed, frustrated, concerned or some combination of the three by the email from our System office informing me that our academic year degrees conferred count appears to be down last year from the year before.
The potential annoyance stems from a planned and purposeful decrease in student enrollment starting in 2001. If fewer students started four years ago than five years ago, it makes sense that fewer students will graduate last year than the year before. But, knowing what I know about our student body – namely that most students take 5 years to graduate instead of 4 – that pr’bly isn’t really the answer; it might be the answer next year, though.
The potential frustration stems from the fact that I wasn’t here at this time last year, so I not only have no idea what was reported, I also have no idea where the supporting documentation might have been filed (assuming, and I’m learning this isn’t always the safest thing to do, it was filed at all). In fact, at this time last year, there was technically no one in my position – my predecessor had departed at the end of June, I didn’t start until mid-November.
The potential concern is that we “lost” student data somewhere between here and the System office. That’s unlikely, but given that they just did a major system upgrade there, it’s theoretically possible. Another potential concern is that, well, we really did confer significantly fewer degrees last year than the year before. But given that I know that our graduation rates are more or less stable over the last couple years, that also seems unlikely.
Somewhere in this tangle is an answer. But I’d somehow rather untangle a badly mangled skein of mohair than delve into the details of data I never touched.