February 1, 2008
Arkansas State University–Jonesboro

Greetings! Another month has passed and spring is just around the corner. Writing this report on a monthly basis has made me an even greater admirer of my friends in the newspaper and media business who write under daily deadlines. All of us on campus are extremely busy this time of year and sometimes it is difficult for me to find time to do solid thinking and good writing among all the meetings, conferences and events. So, this month I am submitting a report that includes good information from our enrollment management team.

Chelsea Clinton’s Visit
First, I want to commend Tom Moore, Rick Stripling and the Student Affairs staff for pulling together a nice event for hosting Chelsea Clinton on approximately 24 hours notice. Around noon last Saturday I received a call from Robert Evans, Executive Director for Governmental Relations, asking me to call Attorney General Dustin McDaniel if we were interested in hosting Chelsea the following day around 3 p.m. for a "meet and greet" and question and answer session. I called Dustin and told him that it would be a privilege for us to do this, but warned him that students would be scarce in the Student Union on a Sunday afternoon. He then asked me to call Brett Kincaid, a Clinton Campaign political director in Arkansas, who would do the advance work for the visit. Brett was already in Jonesboro seeking a place to hold the event and I suggested the Heritage Plaza Lounge on the third floor of the Student Union. He liked the site, and I immediately put him in touch with Rick Stripling to arrange the logistics. I then called Lucinda McDaniel, our ASU System General Counsel, to make sure that there were no restrictions on our hosting a political event, and she assured me there were not. (Of course, we will need to do the same for other presidential campaigns in either party if requested.) To make a long story short, there was a large crowd of people (the Democrat-Gazette estimated about 300) to welcome Chelsea "home," local and Little Rock media sent teams to cover the event, and our students, staff, faculty members and friends from the community who attended felt fully engaged in our exercise in presidential democracy that occurs in this wonderful country every four years. In addition, our University received priceless publicity around the state and beyond as a result of this event being held on our campus so soon after the South Carolina primary.

Enrollment Management Strategies and Success
We are blessed that our enrollment figures are up for the spring 2008 semester. The 11th day unduplicated headcount is 10,369, compared to 10,007 for spring 2007. The associated FTE counts are 8,172 for 2008 compared to 7,823 for 2007. The increases of 362 headcount, and 350 FTE students bring us to an all-time high for a spring semester. We appreciate the hard work of our entire campus community, and especially our enrollment management team, in achieving these numbers.

Technology is also playing an increasingly significant role in enrollment success. A powerful tool used by the Admissions Office is the Azorus Campus Manager, a web-based recruitment software that produces e-mail campaigns, hosts the Power Up student portal, manages postal mailing, promotes events, and coordinates event registrations. The Virtual Advisor software enables students to ask questions 24/7 and eCampus Tours software allows prospective students and their families to sign up for campus visits directly on the Admissions home page.

Also, ASU is making efforts to increase the visibility of our graduate programs by stressing the quality of programs, the variety of opportunities, and their affordability. ASU now has a profile at GradView.com, GradSource.com, Peterson’s online (for the Ph.D. in Molecular Biosciences already online and listing under construction for the Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences ), GradSource magazine, American Model United Nations Conference Program, and regional university publications on graduate fairs.

Moreover, new graduate programs are being added in disciplines with high student interest. The Master of Engineering Management program was approved by the ASU Board of Trustees at its December 2007 meeting. Enrollment may begin as early as Fall 2008 depending on approval by ADHE. Other programs expected to begin enrollment in the near future are the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) (first cohort in Fall 2009) and the Masters in Social Work (MSW) (Spring 2009).

A new initiative to enhance ASU’s international recruitment and retention is well underway. An international recruiting DVD is being developed, agencies are being retained to assist in recruiting, and the International Programs staff is being reorganized and expanded. We also will upgrade our international website, an essential component in effective international student recruiting.

In addition to using well-qualified and scrupulously honest international agents and agencies, the University will send more of its own international recruiters overseas to participate in student recruiting fairs and agency/agent fairs. Emphasis will be placed on recruiting from countries that have substantial numbers of students attending institutions of higher education in the U.S. such as India, Japan, Turkey, People’s Republic of China, and Saudi Arabia.

We have begun work to re-establish a program for English as a Second Language (ESL) and will seek accreditation for the program through the Commission on Accreditation of English Language Programs. This program is critical to the success of international students. In addition to the ESL program, special efforts will be made to help our international students achieve the same level of academic, social, and personal success as our students from the U.S.

Under the guidance of the Student Retention and Success Subcommittee of the Enrollment Management Committee, the following steps have been taken to keep the students we currently have while actively pursuing new ones:

  • Expanded the academic advising structure through broadened advising training opportunities;
  • Recognized faculty who provide outstanding advising service to students;
  • Identified long-standing academic policies and procedures that hinder academic success and recommend changes to minimize or remove many enrollment obstacles;
  • Established four-year degree plans for all majors;
  • Strengthened the academic component and advising role during New Student Orientation;
  • Implemented mandatory first-year experience course "Making Connections" and increased co-curricular first-year student programming;
  • Created and implemented mentoring program for all first-time, first-year students on academic probation through 25 sections of "College Choices";
  • Increased learning assistance opportunities in math and science courses through increased tutorial hours; and
  • Established an Early Alert Program to provide a formal means of referral for students in academic distress.

In the coming months, the Division of Student Affairs’ Enrollment Services area plans to work closely with each college to implement steps to boost the conversion rate of current applicants and admits to enrolled students. The current number of first-time freshman applicants and admits are significantly higher than in previous years.

Thanks are due to the entire campus community for all their efforts on behalf of our students. Have a great month!

Robert L. Potts

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