March 3, 2006
Arkansas State University - Jonesboro

This First Friday report brings good news about enrollment management with regard to recruitment and retention, as well as a progress update on the ASU-Jonesboro Chancellor search process.

Celebration is in order.

Previous First Friday reports have described an institutional effort to define enrollment management strategies. Although the full effects of the plan are not anticipated until the fall 2006 enrollment, we already have begun to see positive outcomes. The numbers are positive:

     • The headcount enrollment for all instructional sites associated with the Jonesboro campus is 9,873. This is the second largest spring semester headcount enrollment in history.

     • The spring 2006 full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment is 7,872, among the highest in ASU history.
     • 1,020 students enrolled in web-based or web-assisted courses provided by the Jonesboro campus, by far the largest number in history.

     • Full-time, first-time freshmen returning in the spring 2006 from the previous fall term are 86% of the cohort, up from 83% last year.

     • Graduate student enrollment increased in the spring 2006 compared to spring 2005 and included 109 doctoral students, the greatest number in history.

These indicators are good news, and hopefully a portent of things to come. Applications for new admissions in the fall 2006 currently are significantly higher than any previous entering class. Our plan to increase scholarship support has already produced more awards than ever, and the interest among students applying for admission to The Honors Program will greatly exceed the number of seats awarded. Housing applications are more numerous than in the past, and interest is especially high for the honors hall in the new student apartments.

It is a good thing that we got a jump on the enrollment effort, because statewide projections are somewhat dismal for the availability of post-secondary students in the future. Consider these estimates provided by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education:

     • The total number of Arkansas high school graduates will continue to increase for the next three years, until 2009.

     • The number of white high school graduates will grow only about 1% by 2008, and then will begin a decline of about 8% by 2013. The number of white high school graduates actually declined by 1.3% from 2004-2005.

     • The number of African-American high school graduates in Arkansas will grow about 8% by 2008, and then will begin a decline of approximately 10% by 2013. From 2013 to 2017, the number of graduates will become stable. The number of Arkansas African-American high school graduates declined by 3.2% from 2003 to 2005.

     • The number of Hispanic high school graduates in Arkansas will grow from about 3% in 2005 to 12.7% by 2017. The number of Arkansas Hispanic high school graduates in 2017 will be 4.77 times as great as 2005. The number of Arkansas Hispanic high school graduates grew by 50.6% from 2002 to 2005.

     • In 2007, just next year, Arkansas high schools will produce 1,054 Hispanic graduates, 5,862 African-American graduates, 20,298 white graduates, and 747 other graduates, for a total of 27,961 graduates.

     • Ten years later, in 2017, projections are that a fewer number of Arkansas high schools will produce 3,795 Hispanic graduates, 5,670 African-American graduates, 19,935 white graduates, and 498 other graduates, a total of 29,898 graduates.
More than 40 higher education providers in Arkansas will be vying for those students, along with many institutions in bordering states. The best of those graduates will be sought nationally.

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) projects that in 2014, African-American and Hispanic graduates will make up the following percentage of public high school graduates in their respective states:

     • 33% in the United States
     • 44% in SREB states
     • 36% in Alabama
     • 36% in Arkansas
     • 50% in Florida
     • 47% in Georgia
     • 45% in Louisiana
     • 49% in Mississippi
     • 21% in Oklahoma
     • 27% in Tennessee
     • 57% in Texas

Clearly, there will continue to be recruitment challenges if we are to realize our goals to have diversity among faculty and staff that will mirror our student enrollment. The progress of the diversity program over the last several years must continue to grow, and especially with a view to Hispanic employees. But a great challenge for all of us now employed at ASU is in the area of student recruitment and retention. Why is this so?

First, our economic future, or more pertinently your economic future at ASU depends upon more students. We have seen a leveling of state support for the public universities, which has lagged behind the increases in costs to operate the institutions. Some of the cost increases cannot be avoided, such as utility costs, benefit costs, and equipment maintenance costs. These necessary expenditures can deplete the funds available to give raises, hire new staff and faculty, or provide employee benefits. Recruitment and retention are increasingly important to generate additional student tuition through increased enrollments to help pay for those expenses.

Secondly, a portion of the operational funds that we use to buy supplies, travel, equipment, technologies, library holdings, renovations, professional development activities, and the like are tied to distributions through the higher education funding formula of the state. Enrollment increases through recruitment and retention will make a case for increased formula funding for ASU.

Our relatively flat enrollment over the last several years has caused ASU to lose ground in the depiction of needed funds, compared to those institutions that have gained enrollments in the same period. The funding model from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, included as an attachment, indicates that ASU has fallen from the second position in need for state support, where we were in 1996, to the fourth position in need for state support in 2006. Our enrollment has not changed significantly in that period, but the recruitment and retention efforts of two other universities have moved them ahead of us in the order for needed funding that is tied directly to enrollment increases. Keep in mind that the formula has not yet been adequately funded by the state, and that numbers will be important to make our case when that time comes.

A third reason to push for increased recruitment and retention goals is to maintain or increase the tenure density within the faculty. Clearly we have the capacity to absorb more students within our facilities and within teaching schedules. Empty class seats in many sections attest to this circumstance. But unless we are successful in recruiting and retaining students to achieve and maintain a critical mass for the future, we will have less need for tenured appointments. In fact, in a declining and uncertain enrollment scenario we are better served by adjunctive appointments rather than tenured positions. So, effective recruitment and retention will help us preserve the tenure system, which is an important aspect of our university.

A fourth reason it is important that we focus on recruitment and retention strategies, and be successful in our effort, is because of where we are located. We are in a region of the state that is losing population. Other universities, our competitors, are located in regions of the state, which are gaining population. That means that if we are to be compared favorably to other schools for funding, for influence, and for stability over time, we will need to recruit and retain those students around us in our natural markets. But we also must recruit and retain students from other markets. In sports, one would say that the best offense is a good defense. That adage applies to recruitment and retention. That is why all of us have to be on the same team, because recruitment and retention is everyone’s business. We all have vested interests in seeing our student numbers continue to increase. This is a new role and responsibility for many of us, but it is a necessary activity if we all are to share in the rewards of success. Please pitch in if you haven’t done so.

The chancellor search process has started and is moving forward. The first steps, outlined in the previous First Friday, have been realized through organization of the Search Advisory Committee and a series of campus forums.

The Search Advisory Committee includes:

     • Dr. Chuck Carr, department chair, English and Philosophy
     • Dr. Jerry Farris, associate dean, College of Sciences and Mathematics
     • Dr. Dick Freer, vice president of the Faculty Senate and associate professor of Social Work
     • Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Delta Heritage Initiatives
     • Dr. Veda McClain, department chair, Teacher Education
     • Dr. Jeff Pittman, associate professor of Accounting and Law
     • Dr. Andy Sustich, dean of the Graduate School
     • Dr. Tina Gray Teague, professor of Entomology and Plant Science
     • Nonie Wiggins, assistant professor of Nursing and faculty athletics representative
     • Tammy Fowler, interim director of Admissions
     • Victor Hill, president of Staff Senate and counselor in Financial Aid
     • Dr. JW Mason, associate vice chancellor for Finance and Administration
     • Tiffny Frazier, vice president of the Student Government Association
     • Jason Smith, master’s program student
     • Rosalee Barber, community representative
     • Marilyn Hummelstein, community representative
     • Ben Owens, community representative
     • Harold Perrin, community representative

These persons and others attended town hall meetings held in Jonesboro and Little Rock, and on the campus. The participants met with Dr. Bill Franklin, search consultant, to describe characteristics desirable for the new chancellor. The meetings received good reviews from participants and from the consultant.

A chancellor search web link is on the ASU home page. There you will find detailed information about the process, a position profile, and additional information available to potential candidates. You may also use the links to nominate individuals for consideration by the search advisory committee.

The search has entered a period when nominations and applications from interested parties are being sought. Advertisements for the position will appear in local and national media over the next several weeks. Some persons on campus may receive inquires from colleagues about the chancellor position in response to advertisements. Please direct any interested individuals to the ASU home page for information about the search or about the ASU-Jonesboro campus and its programs.

Thank you for reading First Friday, and thank you for your efforts to see our spring enrollment move to a higher level. If you have questions about this report or any other aspect of Arkansas State University, please contact me at

Leslie Wyatt

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