Administrators address council’s enrollment concerns

Chancellor Rita Cheng and Provost John Nicklow cited administrative involvement as a key enrollment factor during an Administrative Professional Staff Council meeting Wednesday.

The council presented the Chancellor and Provost various administrative questions, and Cheng chose to address enrollment initiatives—such as the scholarship day, which Cheng said was a success— and staff involvement first.

“How can the council and the staff further these initiatives? Stay positive,” Cheng said. “It’s hard work. It isn’t something that has positive outcomes right away. All the research shows it takes a while, and once you start that momentum it builds.”

University initiatives should seek to foster student improvement, Cheng said.

“I think there’s just a huge number of initiatives underway to increase enrollment,” Cheng said. “I would characterize that as we make sure that we recruit students who can be successful here, and then we do everything that we can to ensure their success.”

Nicklow said staff members should consider participation in prospective student events such as the Jan. 12 Chancellor’s Scholarship visit day. Other initiatives include a high school junior, sophomore, and freshman search to reach potential students earlier, he said.

“Enough of the freshmen (parents) in the high schools are saying, ‘Well, so-and-so university contacted my son or daughter as a freshman, and you’re not,’” he said. “That’s (going to) stop. The chancellor knows that I believe our future depends on enrollment. It’s the lifeblood of what we do.”

 

Nicklow recommended that staff volunteer to teach University College classes, and Cheng asked council members to update their webpages.

“We’ve got dead links, (and) we’ve got wrong information,” Cheng said. “We’ve got conflicting information, (and) we’ve got three or four different versions of the logo.”

Council members should also use SIU as the institution name rather than SIUC as university programs such as the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and athletics programs do, she said.

“If we use SIUC in our emails or in our presentations to families, they don’t know what we’re talking about,” Cheng said. “That’s like in-house speak.”

Don Castle, Student Center associate director, said administration professional staff may desire consultation on solutions and ideas.

“I think our AP staff would love to be able to provide input, because there a lot of exciting changes going on,” Castle said.

Cheng said she hoped her strategic planning process would have provided the staff that opportunity.

“We had so many AP staff involved (in strategic planning), but it was the volunteers,” she said. “Maybe it was just the same old group.”

Kathy Jones, council chair, asked the chancellor whether the university Board of Trustees could pass student fees earlier to make the financial aid process more clear for prospective students.

Cheng said the BOT does not want to pass new student fees until it has a sense of the budget. The university also doesn’t expect new state funding for years to come, if ever, she said.

“The new normal that people talk about across the country is that the days of a lot of state appropriations for higher education, and the ability of the federal government to step up the way they did in the past, is probably not going to happen,” she said.

The university saw smaller 2009 and 2010 incoming classes, and major enrollment is down even with freshman enrollment uptick because the smaller classes have reached junior and senior status, Cheng said.

Total fall 2012 enrollment totaled 18,847 students, a dip from 19,817 in fall 2011. However, the university saw a 58-student — or 2.6 percent — first-time undergraduate student increase.

Cheng said enrollment is a complicated figure, and factors include on- and off-campus enrollment, undergraduate and graduate enrollment, and new student and transfer student enrollment. Growth is long-term, she said.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Cheng said. “It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.”

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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