Faculty Senate reviews enrollment initiatives

Debby Hernandez, Administration Editor

Eastern administrators presented their Root Cause Analysis to the faculty senate, explaining the different causes for the 23 percent enrollment decrease and possible ways to target and solve the problem.

Chris Dearth, the director of admissions, said a recruitment plan is being created, and he has reached out to institutions as part of the process.

Part of the strategy includes reaching out to perspective students prior to their senior year in high school.

“It is very important we start the communication with students much earlier in the process,” Dearth said. “We are communicating with juniors in high school, some of our honors program communications may go out towards the end of their sophomore year.”

Dearth said while he received good feedback about Eastern from school counselors, some noted the lack of communication Eastern has with schools.

He said a communications plan is part of year one of the enrollment plan.

“We are already in the recruitment cycle; we have over 480 programs already assigned to counselors who are out there recruiting,” Dearth said. “We have over 600 freshmen admitted already.”

He said applications are now unpredictable with many students having access to researching schools online without communicating with admissions.

“When I started admissions 15 years ago, it was very predictable. We would go to college fairs, kids will show up and fill out a form and that’s how they found out about college,” Dearth said.

Mary Herrington-Perry, the assistant vice president for academic affairs, addressed other root causes for low enrollment. These causes included students attending college out of state, and the large number of competition with 300 higher education institutions and 200 accredited online institutions in Illinois.

Some reasons why students choose not to attend Eastern includes distance from home, not feeling that they “fit in,” the availability or quality of their chosen major, and the appearance of Eastern’s residence halls, according to the root cause analysis.

It also suggests solutions to this problem such as developing new programs and online programs of high demand, and to improve and promote the quality of existing academic programs.

The root cause analysis also addresses a decrease in student interest in the teaching program as a cause for low enrollment numbers.

Amy Rosenstein, a faculty senate member, said students have lost interest in the teacher program because of constant requirement changes and pricy tests that are needed to pass in order to receive teacher certification.

However the teaching assessment center is helping students with required tests, she said.

Grant Sterling, the faculty senate chair, said while the root cause analysis addresses outside factors for the low enrollment, no responsibility is directed.

“No where in here does it say that a root cause of our enrollment decline is the responsibility of any administrator or decisions made by the university,” Sterling said.


He said small local schools have stated that Eastern is not targeting them but is rather looking at larger institutions.

“I think EIU has in the last few years has sent the message to small schools that are not really the group we are targeting, ”Sterling said.

Josh Norman from Enrollment Management said Eastern has had trouble in recruiting students in the west side of the state.

“We had 34 registered students coming from that area,” he said. “We try to reach out to those small schools and we will continue to do that.”


Debby Hernandez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]