- Associated Press - Monday, October 16, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Statistics show that the University of Louisville’s enrollment and growth have been relatively unscathed so far during a series of scandals at the school.

The Courier-Journal reports that UofL’s enrollment increased 4 percent between 2005 and 2016. But some are wondering how long the university’s luck can last.

John Thelin, a university research professor at the University of Kentucky, said he doesn’t believe high school students or their families will be totally swayed away from UofL because of the controversies. But if the school were to continue its negative course, that could change.

“University reputations are intangible, but they’re undeniable,” said Thelin, who specializes in studying higher education and public policy. “At least in academic circles and among colleges and universities, people now have reasonable doubt about UofL.

“If money could solve this problem, that would be a pretty straight-forward solution,” Thelin added. “But regaining credibility is a much more elusive path.”

In the past three years, UofL’s leadership and men’s basketball programs have come under fire for allegations of mismanagement and improper behavior.

Former UofL President James Ramsey resigned last year amid a restructuring of the university board of trustees, and the school was placed on probation by its accrediting association.

An audit unearthed chronic issues of bad investments and overspending.

UofL self-imposed a postseason ban on its men’s basketball program for the 2015-16 season following the publishing of “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” which described parties for recruits and players that involved “dancers” and “prostitutes.” Those allegations led to NCAA sanctions handed down in June. The university has appealed the NCAA Committee on Infractions’ decision.

Now, the men’s basketball program is receiving critical attention again as the FBI investigates a “pay to play” scheme in which UofL is involved.

Amid the turmoil, Jenny Sawyer fretted about her trip to a college fair in Lexington, where she was expected to answer questions about UofL. Sawyer, the university’s executive director of undergraduate admissions, was worried the latest scandal could overshadow an important recruiting opportunity for the school.

At the Lexington college fair, Sawyer was surprised she didn’t get any questions about the FBI investigation.

“The only thing I had was two parents who came up and complimented our leadership on how quickly they addressed the issue,” Sawyer said. “We’ve gotten multiple emails of support from (Jefferson County Public Schools) principals and counselors, reminding us of all the great things the university does.”

For the past decade, the university’s enrollment has remained steady, with 21,760 total students enrolled in fall 2005 and 22,640 enrolled in fall 2016, according to the university’s annual Just the Facts reports.

But the number of freshmen is down 7 percent for that time period, falling in line with national trends.

To fight the decline, Sawyer and her admissions team have expanded recruiting in three regional cities - Chicago, Cincinnati and Nashville - and they’re targeting the 100,000 Louisvillians who’ve taken some college courses but not finished a degree.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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