Tom Green, Ph.D.
This issue of SEM Quarterly is not the first one to be released since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but it is the first one to be produced since the world’s higher education institutions scattered to remote learning and administration. It allows me to view the articles in this issue through that strange new lens and to think about the implications on SEM practice now and into the future, when we emerge from the pandemic and are faced with the challenges that we put aside to deal with the immediate crisis.
The first article could not be more appropriate for this time. Lisa Emery provides an outstanding research article on leadership for enrollment managers. Calling for leaders to exhibit a “transformational” leadership style, she also notes the strong need for senior enrollment management officers to step up and guide institutions through turbulent waters. Given the timeline for production of any journal, from initial drafts by an author to its publication date, it is uncanny that this article became ready for publication at this time.
Today, so many students have increased risks that they will be unable to start college. Whether that is due to their own unemployment, the unemployment of supporting family members, the digital divide, etc., it is likely that many students will have greater difficulty making a strong start in college this fall. The case study by Kasper, Wallaser, and Waters provides a foundation for understanding these risks. It also details their main SEM strategies to ameliorate those risks by looking at communications, services, and language that is more supportive of and responsive to those risk factors. As the plan unfolds and results are achieved, we look forward to learning how these strategies impact student success.
It has been interesting to observe the actions of colleges and universities around SEM planning during the pandemic. Some institutions have been overwhelmed by their need to respond to functional and operational issues, placing SEM plan processes on hold for a while until they feel they can stabilize the organization. Others have accelerated their planning processes, realizing that they were in dire need of clear enrollment goals and strategies, as well as operational improvements, to shore up enrollment levels. Dr. Tara Hornor provides readers with a crisp, well-developed view of SEM planning, linked to key strategic and budget planning processes. As we move through and beyond the pandemic, it is important to keep in mind strong SEM planning processes, and Dr. Hornor has given a clear, well-written roadmap for institutions to consider as they dig into or resume their SEM plans.
COVID-19 is already straining finances and will likely result in increased budget pressures for the coming year and beyond. Institutions must collaborate more strongly to increase the impact of limited resources. One of the areas where that collaboration is often needed and has the greatest impact on enrollment is admissions and marketing. Our closing case study by Carrie Harris Phillips offers readers a “top 10” list of techniques to increase the collaboration between those departments. It is a pragmatic and well-reasoned roadmap for leveraging resources and ensuring that the actions of each area amplify the efforts of the other. These synergies are critical for reaching target audiences, especially as we rely more and more upon efforts that are not in-person recruiting and marketing becomes a critical factor in reaching enrollment targets.
We hope that you, your students, and families are holding up as well as possible during this tumultuous time. Your dedication to your institutions, students, staff, and colleagues has a tremendous positive impact on so many people, and we hope that SEMQ can support those efforts as we make our own small contribution to helping things become just a little better and easier.
To your good (enrollment) health,