The Role and Responsibilities of the UNK Enrollment Management Council
Over the last two and half years several teams of faculty, staff and administrators at UNK have been working to improve enrollments through a variety of recruitment, marketing, and retention activities. Since the spring of 2007, planning for these activities was incorporated into Phase II of UNK’s Strategic Planning process: marketing activities were addressed in a draft plan for University Relations; recruitment activities were similarly addressed in a draft recruitment plan; and retention activities were addressed in a draft student success plan. As these separate processes moved forward, it became increasingly clear that they should be integrated and that we could benefit from external advice about comprehensive enrollment planning. Chancellor Kristensen then engaged the nationally-renowned Noel-Levitz firm to provide that assistance in several areas: strategic enrollment planning, annual marketing and recruitment plans, and perhaps most importantly developing a comprehensive retention plan. The contract with Noel-Levitz is for a period of four years. It anticipates that UNK will form an Enrollment Management Council (EMC) that will work closely with consultants from Noel-Levitz on key aspects of the advisory program.
On October 28, 2008 the newly formed UNK Enrollment Management Council held its first meeting. Chancellor Kristensen opened the meeting with positive and encouraging comments and then reviewed the following expectations for the EMC in a formal “charge” letter:
- Strategic Enrollment Planning:
One product of the new consultant-advised process will be a strategic enrollment plan that is grounded in (guided generally by) principles stated in our Phase I UNK Strategic Plan. The EMC will develop a draft of that plan, advised by Noel-Levitz, for review by UNK administration and ultimate approval by the UNK Cabinet and Chancellor. To the extent that ideas developed in earlier plan drafts are judged suitable under the new professional guidance, they may of course be carried over into the new enrollment plan. But beyond any particular long-term planning product (a plan), I hope that the EMC will also be a vehicle to institutionalize a new approach to comprehensive planning in this area at UNK.
- Marketing, Recruitment, and Retention Action Plans:
In addition to preparing a strategic plan, I asked Noel Levitz to advise us about immediate operational improvements in these areas (changes that we might adopt quickly to improve enrollment results for Fall 2009). The EMC should be a forum in which these campaign plans are discussed, coordinated, and evaluated, with considered advice to operators about possible enhancements and how to achieve better teamwork. As for particular products, Noel Levitz will help us produce an annual marketing and recruiting plan. I envision that this would be produced by operating units (as some are now), but the EMC should assume an oversight and coordinating role. In addition, it seems important on the retention side to develop an annual plan or assessment that reflects updated information and judgment about challenges and opportunities. The EMC should oversee preparation of that product as well.
- Comprehensive Planning Scope:
Our engagement with Noel Levitz has been focused, initially, on activities relevant to undergraduate recruitment and retention. But in the long run that will not be enough. I want to ensure that our strategic enrollment plan, and operating plans, reach all UNK capability to enlarge enrollment, including international recruitment/retention, graduate program enrollments, distance education and on-line programs, and new academic offerings designed to meet instructional need/demand. The EMC should be a forum in which ideas in all these areas can come forward for further study or referral to appropriate evaluation channels (e.g., referral of possible curriculum changes to academic authorities).
The Chancellor has asked that the EMC Chair report to the Senior Vice Chancellor and on a regular basis send “Activity Summaries” to the Dean’s Council, the Administrative Council and the Chancellor’s Cabinet. All significant matters, related to policy and procedures, will be submitted for approval prior to implementation. The EMC will submit a draft of the Strategic Enrollment Plan to the Chancellor by June 2009 for review, recommendation and approval after careful consultation and review by and through the appropriate administrative channels.
As the Chair of the UNK EMC, I look forward to working with the Noel-Levitz consultants and my colleagues across campus to develop a data driven plan that is based on solid market research to improve our marketing, recruitment and retention efforts. I’m confident that we can become more strategic and efficient in our efforts to improve the quality and quantity of students who choose UNK to further their education.
However, I am also cognizant of the fact that no enrollment plan will work without a strong commitment on the part of the faculty at UNK to continue to provide outstanding educational opportunities for our students. Likewise, a brilliant marketing plan won’t substitute for a lack of personal attention and concern for our students. In the end, it’s up to each of us on a daily basis to make UNK the kind of place that the students of today want to be a part of…… We know we have a strong institution that provides the state of Nebraska and the nation with well prepared professionals. However, we also know that in this highly competitive market, we are going to have to work both smarter and harder to maintain the enrollment base we need to flourish as an institution of higher education in the future. So, I say, let the competition begin. Go Lopers!
- Ed Scantling
*If you have questions, concerns or would like to attend an EMC meeting please contact any member of the Council. The members are: Renee Ballenger, Mary Daake, Gary Davis, Bruce Elder, Juan Guzman, Linda Johnson, John Lakey, Kathy Livingston, Diane Longo, Dusty Newton, Ed Scantling, Kim Schipporeit, Mary Sommers, Gloria Vavricka, and Gail Zeller.