Students walk to class in the winter
Students walk to class in the winter

UofL’s Staff Senate met Nov. 9 via Microsoft Teams. Staff senators received updates on student enrollment and graduation rates, the projected 2025 demographic cliff, university administration’s plans for addressing the future enrollment challenge and upcoming changes to multifactor authentication for Microsoft systems.

Jim Begany, vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success, provided updates on current student enrollment and graduation rates. The student graduation rate at UofL has reported steady growth over the past six years, increasing from 52.9% in 2015 to 61.6% in 2021.

“Our graduation rate is the real highlight of this presentation. Last year we eclipsed 60% for the first time in the history of the university, and now we have surpassed it and we’ll continue to improve that number,” Begany said.

Total enrollment for fall 2021 was 21,754 students, a decrease of 227 from last year’s fall semester; these figures reflect the national downward trend in undergraduate enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Enrollment figures nationwide are projected to decline significantly over the next five to 10 years. This is due to falling birthrates and a decrease in the population of high school students known as the demographic cliff.

According to Begany, Kentucky’s estimated drop is around 15-16%, which, he said, will be a significant challenge in our regional markets.

Begany informed senators that the Office of the Provost is exploring possible solutions to address this future obstacle, including the formation of the Demographic 25 Committee. This committee will confront the challenge of the projected 2025 demographic cliff by focusing institutional efforts in six areas: academic quality, institutional aid strategies, retention and graduation, academic programs, recruitment and partnerships.

Senators were also joined by M. Rehan Khan, vice president of Information Technology Services and chief information officer, and Katherine Stevenson, executive director of Enterprise Technology Services. Stevenson informed senators that Information Technology Services will start using Conditional Access, a form of multifactor authentication for Microsoft O365 software. Authorization will be a combination user and device identity, location signaling and if necessary, two-factor user verification.

“When we turn this on, what we’re doing is checking the reputation of the IP address that you’re logging on from and your normal login behavior. If we rank that as a high-risk login, we’re simply not going to allow that login to continue. If you were a medium risk login, you would be prompted to do two-factor verification,” Stevenson said.

Conditional Access for Microsoft O365 systems will provide increased security for the university, as well as improving the security of employees’ data and personal information. Conditional Access will go into effect for all staff and faculty Jan. 10, 2022, and will apply to all applications that utilize the Microsoft Single Sign-On system, such as Outlook and SharePoint.

Committee reports and a full video recording of the virtual meeting can be found on the Staff Senate Meeting page. The next Staff Senate meeting will be held on Dec. 13 via Microsoft Teams.