Sunday, April 5, 2009

Whose responsible for enrollment???

So the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs spoke at the recent Presidential Faculty meeting. He told us that his job was enrollment, enrollment, enrollment.’ In the current economic environment, that job would be quite a challenge. It got me thinking about what can the university do to increase its enrollment without compromising the academic quality that faculty have been fighting for during the past few years.

I asked a staff member familiar with budgets what the university budget is for marketing. What do we spend to let the world know we are open for business?I was told the university has no marketing budget. How could we possibly expect our enrollment to increase if we aren’t willing to spend any money on marketing? It then made sense why I never see advertisements in the Sunday education sections of the major newspapers and why I see no advertising on heavily trafficked billboards or on CTA buses and trains.

If we are not going to spend money what ways can we announce ourselves to world? A couple of methods come to mind. What if we produced a weekly news program, This Week at CSU, and had that aired on cable access in the city and suburbs. A locally produced program that highlights activities and personalities at the university. Why aren’t we talking about our faculty who get so little attention outside of departments or colleges? Why don’t we show what we are doing here at the university? Why don’t we introduce our students to the world and show potential students what’s possible if they come to CSU? Why don’t we highlight our athletics program and the potential that has for enrollment? I have never produced a 30 minute weekly television program and yet I know it’s possible. We have the resources here to take some responsibility for our enrollment and now is the time to act.

Another way to increase our enrollment is to increase our support for our athletics program. If we are going to be an NCAA Division 1 program, then we have to act like it, not just talk about it. We need external sponsorship, summer sports camps, and university support in order to reach tournaments that would give us national recognition and in the minds of some potential students, validation as a major university. Having the name of our university scroll across the bottom of the screen on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Comcast Sportsnet could reach several million people, more than we could spend money on to reach.

What better way to introduce the university to potential students than invite lawmakers and other elected officials to our classes. Why don’t we show off our university, with all its physical blemishes, and show off our students to people of influence. If you are teaching education policy, why not invite the Chairman of the Senate Education committee to talk about the agenda the legislature has for K-12 education? If you are teaching about the environment, why not invite the House Environment & Energy Committee chairman, Thomas Holbrook, to your class. If your are teaching about budgets or finance, why not invite the Alderman Ed Burke, chairman of the Chicago City Council Committee on Finance to talk about how the city spends our tax dollars. These influence makers would then have CSU in their consciousness and we never know how many people they would talk to about CSU. It doesn’t cost us anything and we could just get more students of the quality that we want here.

If Dr. Johnson’s job is enrollment, enrollment, enrollment, isn’t it everybody’s job too?

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