This will come as news to few reading this, but bears repeating: summer enrollment is dictated more by the supply of courses than by student demand. For the details, and a suggestion for how to improve things, read on.
My department, for example, could offer twice as many sections of Spanish and fill them all, if we had enough funding to offer the sections in the first place. Hence the following comment by the Chancellor, assuming she was accurately summarized in the DE, is misleading.
Chancellor Rita Cheng said she directly worked with all deans to make sure each college had adequate salary dollars for any summer class that could be filled.The summer budget often falls prey to budget cuts that are counterproductive. That is, even if a class would enroll enough students to more than cover the salary of the instructor, it often cannot be offered. This is because when the budget is tight, the summer budget is one of the things than can be cut without laying people off, as summer teaching is almost always an "extra" for faculty. The summer budget gets cut, in other words, because it can be cut, not because it should be. Similarly, when summer enrollment goes up this is far more likely due to more courses being offered (or at least more popular courses being offered) than it is to any improved recruitment & retention efforts.
Given that the physical infrastructure on campus is here year round, it's a shame for it to be underutilized in the summer: we are air conditioning Lawson whether there are 100 students in it or 1000. And it takes many of our students far too long to graduate; as most of them aren't off vacationing in the Bahamas over the summer, a wider range of summer offerings might help improve time to graduation and graduation rates. How to fix this?
Perhaps it ought to be possible for faculty to teach summer courses as part of their regular loads, rather than as an extra assignment for extra pay. Not many faculty would jump at this prospect, as most of us jealously guard our summer time (for research, in many cases). And we are used to viewing summer teaching as something of a perk. Certainly no faculty member should be required or pressured to teach year round. But for some people this may be desirable, at least on occasion. Rather than attempting to squeeze most of my research into the summer, for example, I can imagine having more time for research during the fall semester (when I normally teach three classes) if one of those classes were offered in the summer instead. And it might be possible to offer a class in the summer that would enroll better, better serve my program, or both, than would that third class in the fall. For example, we currently offer no summer classes whatsoever in my program (Classics).
This might, then, be an occasion when I'd be in favor of giving administrators more "flexibility". But I can imagine objections from faculty worried that this could be the first step toward requiring us to teach more, or at least over a longer time period, for no more pay. What do you think?