Monday, April 23, 2012

Bethany Trivia

What was the name of Kirkpatrick Hall before it got its current name?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Expectations: The President /Chief Enrollment Officer Relationship

(Enrollment Manager, April 2012 – by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell)

We’ve written before on the critical topic of transformational presidential leadership.  This column is devoted to the relationship between the college president and the chief enrollment officer.  Because enrollment is the single most important revenue “driver” at most colleges and universities, the strength of that relationship is critical to institutional success.

In dozens of consultancies at diverse institutions, we’ve found that all have at least one thing in common: a proactive president who demonstrates  commitment to a culture of recruitment and retention.  

Keeping Your Eye on the Prize  

Urgency and continuity of focus are critical, observes Dr. Joe Pace, a nationally-known specialist in student retention and chairman of the board, PX2 Youth and Higher Education, who also serves as program director, facilitator and speaker for The Pacific Institute in Seattle, WA.

“What we almost always find when we are retained by institutions with slipping recruitment and retention is that the little things that make all the difference to students have slipped through the cracks,” says Pace. He adds, “Just a small lapse in attention to student needs and expectations can result in a critical slippage in students.”
The President

Dr. James L. Fisher, noted author and President-emeritus of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, states, “A transformational leader can be likened to the captain of a ship; others may steer the ship, but the captain must first chart a clear vision.”

With changing student and family demographics, eroding financial support from federal and state governments and competition becoming ever more intense, visible and entrepreneurial presidential leadership is essential.

The visible CEO challenges the status quo, setting priorities while engaging the community and openly linking enrollment to the financial health of the college.  He or she leads the desired profile, establishes an organizational structure to facilitate productivity, frames issues and policy and pilots institutional strategies and approaches. 

Moreover, the transformative president must demonstrate a keen understanding that buildings, grounds and technology are an integral component of strategic success. This is especially true of health, fitness and athletic-related facilities and amenities: NCAA statistics point out that student participation in varsity and junior varsity teams nationally continues to rise at the rate of about 2 percent a year. As our colleague Dr. Walter M. Bortz III, former president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, states, “Ensuring that the campus has curb appeal and is filled with first-class technology, faculty and facilities helps to guarantee the necessary enrollment to keep the enterprise operational and growing.”  

Championing Enrollment

The president must continually champion enrollment, engaging key leaders in the process while allocating the resources needed to get the job done.  Although vision is vital, attention to detail is equally critical.  Progress requires a business approach and demands weekly reports from the chief enrollment officer. These should include:

 ¨          An overall report that includes, but is not limited to, contacts, inquiries, applications, completed applications, acceptances and confirmations;

 ¨       Individual reports for counselors and call-center personnel that includes volume of contacts and conversions, and

¨         Financial aid reports including, but not limited to, pre-awards, awards and acceptances. These three areas are the most crucial, and an effective enrollment president always has command of this information. 

The Chief Enrollment Officer

The role of this key individual has become increasingly complex, states Bethany College vice president Sven de Jong, who has successfully implemented a model recommended by The Dysart Group in 2007.  After years of “roller coaster” results at Bethany, the model has resulted in three of the College’s largest classes in the past 30 years and the largest headcount in 35 years in 2011.  This while also progressively improving the profile of each incoming class.

“Increased competition means that chief enrollment officers must be continuously scanning the enrollment landscape, seeking new approaches and proactively recommending strategic responses to new trends,” he adds.  “New trends are pointing to an approach in which enrollment resources must be simultaneously directed not only toward bringing in next year’s class, but also focusing on high school sophomores and juniors, increasing numbers of transfer students and connecting with them in ways and on platforms prospective students expect in today’s  highly technologically integrated society.”

Depending on the complexity of the organization, this key campus leader might carry any one of a variety of titles; those of vice president, dean or executive director are among the most common. de Jong is Vice President for Institutional Advancement, with all external affairs (including enrollment and fund raising) falling under his supervision.  A Director of Enrollment reports directly to him. “It is imperative that he or she be an active institutional spokesperson, a team builder and an accomplished motivator all while holding the staff accountable,” de Jong noted.

Presidential expectations for this individual include the setting of realistic goals and energetic, ongoing participation in website and e-marketing (including social media), print media, direct mail and the college’s first-year program.  Further, he or she must understand the vital role of research in analyzing trends, the pivotal role of marketing, the volatile world of admissions and financial aid, the value of student orientation and the necessity of retention and advising.  The enrollment manager must also demonstrate the “people” skills to train and motivate the enrollment counselors who work in the field and those who staff the call center. 

Finally, the effective chief enrollment officer must operate from a bottom-line perspective, focusing on the objectives of each component reporting to this area.  Combining these big-picture and detail-oriented factors leads to a successful outcome, with the result exceeding the sum of its parts.

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Dr. Scott D. Miller is President of the College and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College in West Virginia.  Now in his third college presidency, he recently started his 22nd year as a college CEO.

Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, a former president of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, is senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and principal of Hyatt-Fennell, a Higher Education Search Firm.

They have collaborated on nine books, including “President to President:  Views on Technology in Higher Education” (2009) and “Presidential Perspectives: Economic Prosperity in the Next Decade” (2011).  Both serve as consultants to college presidents and boards.                            

“The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” John D. Rockefeller

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Springing Forward at Bethany

(The President's Letter, April 2012)
An early spring has blessed our beautiful mountaintop campus in Bethany. Beyond my campus window are daffodils, lush green grass, budding bushes and flowering trees.  Day by day, in the words of a colleague, “the transformation is amazing and inspiring.”

Spring term at Bethany fulfills the sense of promise and possibility that begins with each new academic year.  In addition to Commencement, perhaps no event captures that spirit as meaningfully for the entire institution as Founder’s Day. This year we welcomed back to campus as our Convocation speaker noted historian and Johns Hopkins Scholar D. Duane Cummins, who served as president of the College from 1988 until his retirement in 2002. Dr. Cummins’ remarks generated an appreciative response from faculty, students, alumni and friends as he recalled the improbable survival of the College in the darkest days of the Civil War.

“During 1861,” Dr. Cummins recounted, “students in large number began to leave Bethany. Some went home, while most enlisted in the army.  The student body was reduced to 38 and the faculty to two.  Only five degrees were conferred in 1862, and enrollment soon fell again to 33.

“In 1863, on July 3, Commencement was held for four graduates. Only 10 trustees had been able to make the trip.  Common sense suggested that they should simply close the doors of the College,” Dr. Cummins continued.

On that July 3, however, “with no other asset than the ideal of Bethany College,” Dr. Cummins noted, “the trustees made a fateful decision. . . it is recorded in the minutes, and the vote was unanimous that ‘The operation of the college will continue in all respects.’”

As if to validate the trustees’ decision, and entirely unknown to them, twin Union victories that same week—at Gettysburg and Vicksburg—marked the turning point of the war, while simultaneously “marking the turning point in the survival of Bethany College,” Dr. Cummins concluded.  Enrollment that fall jumped 40 percent. 

Decisive leadership by Bethany College trustees in 1863 had saved the College.  Today, this small liberal arts college continues to embody the mission of our founder, while adapting its programs to the needs of a global, knowledge-based economy.
The mobility of our society is one of many aspects of contemporary life that would likely have astounded our College’s early leaders, with student  groups fanning out in every direction during our recent spring break. Student-athletes traveled widely, with the golf team to Myrtle Beach, softball to Clermont, Fla., and baseball to Ft. Pierce, Fla.  Puerto Rico was the destination of Spanish Club members and advisors, who toured the El Yunque tropical forest, the famed Bacardi rum factory, Rio Camuy Caves, Bioluminscent Bay and Luquillo Beach, among other attractions. 

German Club members and advisors flew to Milan in two groups, touring various attractions, museums and other sights there, with day trips to Venice, Verona and the Italian Dolomites for skiing and sledding.

The Economics and Business Clubs visited seven European countries, with stops in cities including London, Brussels, Venice, Innsbruck, Paris and Dijon.  Closer to home, Bethany students completed an Alternative Spring Break in the Florida Everglades where they helped to remove invasive species to rid the swamps of plants competing with the natural flora and fauna. Students and advisors also participated in beach cleaning on sea turtle nesting grounds.

The Tri-Beta Biological Honorary Society, Alpha Phi Chapter, traveled to Boston where they visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the New England Aquarium and the Boston Museum of Science.

Some of our brightest future Bethanians joined us March 24 for the 28th annual Kalon Scholarship Luncheon. Emmy Award-winning TV producer Jhamal K. Robinson, a 1998 Bethany alumnus who serves as head of production for Yahoo! Studios in Los Angeles, was keynote speaker. The luncheon is part of the Kalon Leadership Scholarship Competition, which recognizes incoming students who possess special leadership potential.  It offers future students with exceptional promise an opportunity to be inspired by successful alumni. One of many Bethany graduates who have achieved excellence in their fields, Jhamal built on the base of knowledge and experience that he received at Bethany, becoming one of the youngest, yet most influential, producers in the television industry.

Another highlight of our year is the Oreon E. Scott Lectures. The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins launched the 57th annual Scott Lectures, March 26-27, at Bethany’s Mountainside Conference Center. Dr. Watkins currently serves as the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. This year’s event focused on “The Challenge of Being Church in the 21st Century.” 

Our campus will wind up the spring term with Alumni Weekend, May 4-6, and Commencement Weekend, May 11-12.  We invite you to join us for these annual traditions.

As we prepare to conclude another academic year, it is appropriate to echo the words of Dr. Cummins: “Memory, heritage and a profound conviction about the value of the Bethany College ideal have always undergirded Bethany’s courageous response to every challenge it has faced.”  May we always continue to honor this firm foundation and the spirit of renewal that attends springtime and the forward-looking activities of Bethanians.  

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“We cannot fail to win unless we fail to try.” Tom Clancy, author

Monday, April 2, 2012

Presidential Perspectives

(This month's issue of Presidential Perspectives, a presidential thought series, published by Scott D. Miller and Marylouise Fennell with support of Aramark Higher Education). 

This month's chapter is titled "The Financial Benefits of Campus Sustainability." 

Bethany Trivia

When was Morlan Hall built?

Click here to see the answer and other Bethany Trivia questions.

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.” Tommy Lasorda