Enrollment Management Models: Considerations for Where Enrollment Managers Should Reside within the Campus Organization

Article excerpt

Today's enrollment challenges have impacted all sectors and strata of colleges and universities. Campus leaders are questioning whether their organizational models, as well as the roles and responsibilities of key enrollment players, are aligned for optimal enrollment success.

The questions aren't new. As early as the mid-1970s, the Boston College Alumni Magazine, in an article entitled "To the Organized Go the Students," noted that "enrollment management is a process that brings together often disparate functions having to do with recruiting, funding, tracking, retaining, and employing students as they move toward, within, and away from the institution."

There is no "one organization fits all" model. Rather, administrators must find a system that fits with their institution's mission, culture, and tradition to create. The enrollment organization should foster cooperation, collaboration, and constant communication--minimizing silos and maximizing synergies.

REPRESENTING THE ENROLLMENT VOICE

Across the higher education landscape, the chief enrollment officer can be found reporting to a variety of senior/executive officers: from presidents to provosts to vice presidents of finance, student life, and advancement. The key is whether the enrollment "voice" will be represented and heard at the cabinet level and by trustees to ensure the availability of the resources and programs necessary to compete successfully in a crowded marketplace.

Because tuition (net of financial aid) represents the largest source of revenue in most college and university budgets, there is a strong argument for the chief enrollment officer to be a vice president sitting at the table with other senior ofricers. This model is the simplest.

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Yet, campus culture, tradition, or circumstances could render this a bad idea. Faculty and even trustees at many schools already express concerns about administrative bloat. Adding yet another VP may be untimely, unwelcome, and unwise.

Chief enrollment officers at the associate or assistant vice presidential level can, and do, successfully report to a senior officer who is not the president. By far, the most commonly found reporting line would be to chief academic or chief financial officers. The key is the extent to which the supervisor has the time and interest to understand the challenges and forces at play in meeting enrollment targets, and then possesses a willingness to mentor and advocate.

The supervisor must also be ready to bring the chief enrollment officer to the table when it's absolutely critical for that voice to be heard. For example, a critical time for the involvement of enrollment would be as the financial aid budget is set and enrollment and net tuition revenue goals are determined.

OTHER MODELS

Just as there's no one perfect enrollment management reporting structure, there's not a fixed set of administrative units that must formally be part of this area.

Some institutions have organized enrollments under the vice president for university relations or institutional advancement where marketing/communications, alumni relations, publications, and development also are housed. This can be a very effective model as long as there is also a concerted effort by enrollment management to forge a strong partnership with academic affairs. Because so much of recruitment and retention success relies on the faculty playing an appropriate, meaningful role, it's important that organizational structures don't block communication and collaboration between enrollment leaders and their colleagues.

Admissions and financial aid, with the registrar office a close third, are commonly part of enrollment management. Other areas may include: marketing and communications, career development, institutional research, orientation, alumni relations, and athletics (at a Dill school).

Marketing and communications offices have major enrollment-related responsibilities, including the institution's website. …