CUPB reviews enrollment initiatives

Debby Hernandez, Administration Editor

The Council on University Planning and Budgeting received feedback on enrollment initiatives from administrators Friday.

Members also reviewed possible changes to student representation in the council.

Mary Herrington-Perry, the assistant vice-president for academic affairs, presented the Root Cause Analysis, emphasizing the amount of competition among institutions as one of the root causes for low enrollment.

CUPB member Grant Sterling said the outcomes for enrollment have not turned out as predicted by university members.

“The impression that I received a couple years ago was that we thought what we were doing was going to work.” He said. “We thought (in) 2014 we will at least stabilize; that obviously didn’t happen.”

Sterling said an enormous amount of university money has been spent on enrollment consultants and questioned the lack of improvement.

“Did no (experts) tell us that what we were doing wasn’t going to work and we did it anyways? Or…did we pay lots of money and they were completely wrong?” he asked.

Herrington-Perry said the university received feedback on areas needed to be improved with the consulting.

“They told us point blank that what we were doing in admissions was out of date, so there was vast room for improvement,” she said.

President Bill Perry said while about $150,000 was invested in consultation, it was useful.

“I think it was a worthwhile investment because what we found out was that we were behind the curve,” Perry said. “We are working with keeping up with a rapidly changing environment.”

The Root Cause Analysis also provided a brief overview of the frequent reasons why students do not attend Eastern, which includes the appearance of the campus and its residence halls.

CUPB member Ann Brownson said residence hall appearance is a big reason to be considered.

She said residence halls are not well maintained, and added rooms are often kept empty.

Brownson said while single rooms are offered, they are relatively more expensive, and said another form of offering single rooms to students should be considered.

Herrington-Perry said it is a matter of personal preference.

“When we talk about students saying they are not coming because of the community, there are students who come because of (it),” she said. “It is very difficult to pinpoint who will love Charleston and who will not.”

Director of admissions Chris Dearth said making Eastern more visible among local areas is part of this year’s enrollment initiatives.

“Our local area is set at about an hour and half from campus,” Dearth said. “We are doing more on-sight programs.”

He said the purpose is to build partnerships with local high schools by visiting them personally.

A recent visit from Dearth to Charleston High School brought in 25 students, who made their decision about attending on-sight.

Dearth said another initiative for enrollment is reaching out to students and parents much earlier in the process to communicate to them the opportunities Eastern has to offer.

He said future plans for enrollment include providing in-state tuition to bordering states such as Indiana and Missouri.

“Moving forward, we are looking at our primary market; we are going to name it the State of EIU,” Dearth said.

CUPB members also reviewed the possibility of expanding student representation in the council to graduate students, which in the past has only been offered to undergraduates.

Student Body President Reginald Thedford said the goal is to have the best student representation in CUPB.

“By limiting it to an undergraduate student, that limits the best representation,” Thedford said.

CUPB member Jack Cruikshank said the number of graduate students is small and some are relatively new to Eastern.

“If it is a graduate student that hasn’t been here that long, then that is at the discretion of whoever is appointing him,” Thedford said.

CUPB member Mona Davenport said there is the possibility that many students might not understand the position and as result not apply.

“We don’t want to not have representation here I would think, and that’s why they are trying to put in that clause for just in case,” she said.

A decision on the issue of student representation will be discussed in the next council meeting.

 

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