The civil engineering faculty appreciates the P&R Committee's recommendation for enhanced funding, and its kind comments regarding our BSCE program. We also wish to offer some comments regarding allocation of scarce resources on campus, along with some clarifications regarding this program.
One of the criteria used for evaluation of all undergraduate programs was the percentage of students with GPA < 2.2. Although this certainly is an important issue, we believe it is a systemic campus-wide problem. Using this criterion to suggest that programs with higher percentages of students with a GPA below a 2.2 are somehow in need of improvement in comparison to those with lower percentages is misleading. Perhaps programs with higher percentages are holding the students to more rigorous standards, and are less prone to grade inflation. Thus, we recommend eliminating this as a criterion for evaluating individual programs.
As observed by the Committee, there is a strong demand for civil engineers, and Cal Poly Pomona is a major provider. As a result, our enrollments have risen dramatically (having increased three-fold over the past six years). Even so, our graduates are in high demand. However, this rapid growth, and other factors, have produced an unacceptably high MFR, with corresponding negative impacts on advising and other activities. We are addressing both sides of this problem by actively recruiting new tenure-track faculty, and by developing various plans for limiting enrollment. Nevertheless, we believe there is an urgent need for a discipline-specific enrollment management process that would more effectively regulate the number and quality of incoming students entering each major. Without some effective means of controlling the number of incoming students, there will be little value in setting a target program size. Thus, we strongly recommend developing a campus-wide, qualifications-based, discipline-specific enrollment management process.
Too many of our incoming students, especially Freshmen, are poorly-prepared, which produces a very high attrition rate, additional demands on remedial English and math, low 6-year graduation rates, and other problems. Such students would be much better served at the community colleges, where they would be able to improve their skills before applying for admission as transfer students. Once again, we believe a qualifications-based enrollment management process would be the most effective means of addressing this problem.
Finally, we would be remiss not to also mention that we actively recruit well-qualified students, and have a number of such students in our program. For example, this year's entering class includes several students who obtained a 5 on the BC Calculus advanced placement test -- a notable achievement.
In summary we agree that enhanced funding for the civil engineering program is a good investment for the University. The P&R committee's observations concerning enrollment management are on target. A university wide effort to improve the quality of incoming students is essential to the future success of Cal Poly Pomona.