In the past few years, Pacific University has faced difficulties filling residents halls to their capacity.
An example of this is Clark Hall, the all women dormitory, where the third-floor beds are only being occupied by individuals who attended conferences. If resident life continues to decrease Clark’s all-girl floor will no longer be a part of the housing lottery, and the floor will be transferred to a different dorm on campus.
The university has reached this housing situation mainly due to such small incoming freshman classes. There are not enough students to fill the spaces the university provides.
Nationwide the high school graduation rate has decreased, due to families not having as many children. This leads to many liberal arts schools fighting for the same, smaller pool of graduates. The numbers are simply not there.
Director of Housing Lisa Aiello provided the statics for Pacific, and in this 2018-19 academic year, there were approximate 421 freshman and 144 transfer students. Reflecting back on the 2015-16 academic year where 479 freshman and 118 transfers enrolled.
The decrease of students is evident, and students not living on campus is due in part to new apartment complexes being built in the area, study abroad programs and students wanting to find a space that accommodates chosen roommates with more dining options.
“The university has separated the academic and student life,” Sarah Phillips, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, said. The campus used to be where staff participated in hall events and ate lunch with students, but now their focus is on the academic proportion.
“Living on campus is a part of your whole education and learning experience, we have just gotten ourselves on the academic side more focused on the classroom,” Phillips said. “We need to think about what can we do to move back toward what we were doing before.”
The university does have the Bachelor of Applied Vision Science (BAVS) program on the Forest Grove campus, where international students part of the optometry school come to attend courses, and this will fill some of the vacancies. However the university is also working toward finding different ways of encouraging students to live on campus and establish it as their first choice.