Cultivating relationships with faculty for campus-wide SEM

December 16, 2019
  • Enrollment Management
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • Retention
  • SEM Conference
  • SEM Leadership
professor standing in library

“The most trusted source on campus for prospective students is faculty. The second most trusted source is current students,” stated Don Hossler, Vice Chancellor for Student Enrollment Services, Indiana University Bloomington. Hossler, a.k.a. the author of the EM “bible,” offered this insight during the  Academic Leadership & Faculty Forum at the 2019 AACRAO SEM Conference.

Faculty have an important role to play in enrollment management and because more faculty are finding their way to SEM, said Clayton Smith, Director of SEM. 

About ¼ of session attendees identified themselves as faculty, most of them academic advisors, and most serving on SEM committees at their institution.

Centering SEM in the academic context

“The placement of the EM organization on a campus is not as important as how it connects with academics. The debate over where EM should be misses the point that it cannot succeed unless it is part of the academic fabric of the institution.” – Stan Henderson.

Data is important to faculty. The key to centering SEM in the academic context is to find ways to talk with faculty about what they need. Speak to them about things that make sense to them. These are the components of SEM that are their work - the number of students in their classes, the number of students passing their classes. For example, do you track courses where students get Cs, Ds, and Ws (withdrawal) – roadblock courses? Taking note of these courses can allow faculty and EM professional to build better programs for students, not by watering down course but by providing different options.

One institution took students who got a C on their first math test and offered them the same course taken over two semesters. Suddenly, grades improved. This course was no longer a roadblock course. These students were not bad students, they just needed more time and by working with faculty in their own context EM professionals were able to bring about real change.

Using faculty as closers

What do you say to faculty who want to go out and recruit when you need them to be great at their job? Change the conversation: tell them if they take care of the students they have, they’ll get the students they want. Invest in the academic services center so they can better access students. 

Show them how they can work with recruiters to “close the deal.” Faculty may know a lot about their program but are not ready to answer all the questions associated with students interested in their program – such as how much financial aid they will receive, how VAs loan will be applied, etc.

Introduce faculty to your SEM team. Have them meet your recruiters. Have them tell recruiters what they want students to know about your program. Use your faculty as "closers" – once the recruiters find interested students, have faculty on hand for program specifics and/or faculty calling programs.

Faculty are people

The key to building the bridge between EM professionals and faculty is simple: remember they are human. Welcome new faculty to campus. Build a relationship so once big decisions need to be made, they are there for you and you are there for them.

Like most things, the solution is simple but the work is not. This takes time, perseverance, and dedication to building a campus-wide SEM strategy.