Minot State’s current recruitment and enrollment plan expires at the end of 2020. The university’s strategic plan calls for a revamping of the tactics surrounding recruitment and enrollment. According to Kevin Harmon, the vice president for student affairs, President Shirley has charged former Minot State Vice President of Academic Affairs Gary Rabe and him to co-chair a Recruit and Enroll Committee. In light of projected demographic changes that predict fewer high school graduates and decreases in college enrollment nationally, Rabe said the committee will be focusing on attracting more students and meeting job market needs with its programs. The new plan will run from 2021 through 2025.
“All the prognosticators and demographers are saying that the next five to 10 years or so, demography, in terms of students coming to college, is going to fall off a cliff. There are schools that won’t survive,” said Rabe, who is now a professor and chair of criminal justice at Minot State. “We’ve certainly had enrollment challenges, but never a thing that’s nationwide into that impact. We really need to figure out where those numbers are and how we can capture those numbers.”
In the past, the recruitment and enrollment plan was based primarily on external information gathered by a research company called Ruffalo Noel Levitz. The committee is still using that information in its planning this year, but Rabe said that they will also focus on researching and working with internal departments at Minot State.
“I’m planning to meet with all the departments to look at how they can assist in recruiting and enrolling students. Are their programs and curriculum aligned to meet the new emerging market demands of students’ skill sets that are needed? If not, how do we align with that? We’ve never done that before,” Rabe said.
Enrollment at the university is not only tied to how many tuition dollars the university gathers, but it is also tied to the state funding it receives. North Dakota’s funding model relies heavily on the number of students enrolled at a university. The number of students enrolled is used in a formula that is multiplied by a dollar amount. Aside from an increase of 64 student in 2015, fall enrollment at Minot State has declined since 2010.
“With the demographic changes, if schools choose to ignore this, it’s at their own peril,” Rabe said.
Members of the Recruit and Enroll Committee will work on combating these challenges. Currently, the group includes 24 members, ranging from students and staff, to faculty and administrators.
“The more people at the table offering input, understanding the problem and helping come up with solutions, that’s what we’re after,” Rabe said.
The committee will meet two to three times a month from February to August and weekly in individual working groups focused on topics from design of promotional materials to institutional peer reviews. The working groups will also be responsible for gathering data, analyzing data, and writing an executive summary to be published in the plan. Rabe said the university intends to roll out the plan at convocation in August after it is approved by President Shirley with input from Faculty Senate and student government.