LEADING Strategies

Top Down or Bottom Up: Consider a Dual-Level Approach to Enrollment Managements

Increasing institutional dependency on tuition revenue paired with rising political pressures toward student success outcomes has many institutions turning to enrollment management (EM) to improve their institution’s enrollment outcomes. EM is a comprehensive and inclusive process focused on achieving the optimum recruitment, retention, and graduation institutional outcomes. The academic community remains at the epicenter of this EM process. Chief enrollment officers failing to create an institutional partnership with the academic community will unlikely attain desired enrollment outcomes.

This study seeks to assist institutions by assessing how a “shared sense of responsibility” for enrollment outcomes is developed through the eyes of both chief enrollment officers (CEnO) and key academic partners (KAP). Once high-performing institutions are identified, the researcher interviewed 20 participants from twelve institutions including twelve CEnOs and eight KAPs. This study is designed with a constructivist grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis.

The findings of this study suggest institutions that are successfully drawing the academic community into their EM process do so by engaging EM at two levels of the institution, the central and local. This dual-level approach to EM creates the optimum environment for developing a “shared sense of responsibility” for enrollment outcomes with the academic units. In order for each level to effectively work together, two institutional conditions must be established: credibility and transparency. Each condition is met by addressing three distinct elements. Although each element should be addressed, the degree of importance of each element is tied to internal and external environmental influencers.

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