Math enrollment on the rise as overall SIUE student population increases

Empty seats are increasingly becoming a rare sight in SIUE’s math classes. According to Math Department chair Adam Weyhaupt, the enrollment numbers in math and statistics classes are the highest they have been in at least 15 years.

The SIUE Mathematics Department, currently housed in the Sam L. Vadalabene Center, has experienced its highest enrollment numbers in the last 15 years. (File photo)

Last fall there were 3,470 students enrolled in mathematics courses, up from 3,269 students in the fall of 2013. Since 2001, math enrollees has increased by nearly 1,000 students from 2,493 students that fall.  This spring, despite the expected normal enrollment drop, numbers are still steady at 3,186 students — about 300 more than Spring 2014.

“That just wallops every other spring we’ve had here,” Weyhaupt said.

Weyhaupt said that the department has not hired any full-time faculty recently but has had to bring on part-time instructors to meet the growing demand for math courses. Some students have had to be placed on waiting lists in some 100-level courses, including Quantitative Reasoning 101. Other classes have been moved to larger classrooms, and in some cases, more sections have been added to popular courses. Weyhaupt said the increased enrollment has been challenging as the department currently awaits completion of renovations in its former home, Science Building East. The Math Department is currently using a section of the Sam L. Vadalabene Center as its temporary headquarters.

Weyhaupt said the reasons for the increased enrollment can be attributed to several factors. SIUE’s overall enrollment has steadily risen and SIUE’s fall enrollment was the largest in the school’s history at 14,235 students. That includes a record high for the school’s freshman class.

“Engineering enrollment has dramatically increased, I think that’s the biggest reason,” Weyhaupt said. “I think the changes in general education have also helped some.”

According to Weyhaupt, 95 percent of students enrolled in mathematics classes are not math majors. Engineering students often will take math courses such as calculus as a requirement for graduation.

In an effort to acclimate students from other disciplines, Weyhaupt said the department has encouraged new enrollees to take a proficiency exam for Quantitative Reasoning. The exam is available through Testing Services and students can take sample questions on the university web page to prepare for the test.

Weyhaupt said while the higher enrollment presents bigger challenges for his department, he welcomes the opportunity to teach more students.

“I think it’s good,” Weyhaupt said. “Math and statistics is essential to what all these disciplines are doing. More students means more are being exposed to these ideas.”


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