Date created: November 2007
Author: Lynda Wallace-Hulecki
Executive Director of Student Enrolment, the University of Victoria in Canada.
As an active participant at national conferences on strategic enrollment management (SEM), I have noted a recurrent issue— that enrollment management was still viewed largely as a student affairs or institutional marketing matter; and that the academic community remained largely at arms-length from the process. Although the literature was replete with references to the importance of aligning SEM to the academic mission and to engaging the academic community in the SEM planning process, there was a paucity of information available about how to engage the academic community in assuming shared responsibility for enrollment outcomes, particularly within research focused institutions. As a graduate student specializing in the discipline of enrollment management, I embarked upon a study in the summer of 2007 to develop a deeper understanding of this issue. The study was designed to provide insights on how to engage the academic community in the SEM process in answer to the following five key questions:
The study involved a purposive network sample of five SEM practitioners who were reputed for their leadership in advancing a SEM change process at medium-sized research-focused universities.
Among the many salient findings, the most surprising was that associated with question 2 that a focus on ‘service to students’ was neither a primary motivator for, nor an outcome of the SEM process.
Results from this study were intended to assist SEM professionals, particularly within research-focused universities, in their quest to align SEM initiatives with the academic mission of the institution, to foster shared responsibility for enrollment outcomes, and to engage the academic community as active participants in the process.
The primary research question under investigation was: What processes and procedures were associated with successful SEM planning processes at research-focused institutions, in which the term ‘successful’ was defined by the ability to effect positive change through active participation by academic administrators and faculty in the process? Study participants were invited to participate in a two-staged research process: a pre-interview survey, followed by a one-hour semi-structured interview. In considering that this study was about introducing change as a component of a strategic planning process, the constructs to frame the survey and interview processes were based upon an adaptation of Bryson’s (2004) ten-step Strategic Change Cycle, and the eight steps to introducing transformative change advocated by Kotter (1995) and Owen (2001). In relation to each specific stage of the strategic planning and implementation processes, the study sought more depth of understanding in answer to the following four secondary research questions:
There was considerable variability regarding which of the planning and implementation stages were rated of high importance. When considering high importance to be those items rated by four or more participants as a 4 or 5 on the five point Likert scale (where a rating of 1 is ‘low importance’ and a 5 is ‘high importance’), and/or items with a mean score of 4 or higher, the most important stages included only three of Bryson’s ten planning stages, and four of the eight transformative change stages advocated by Kotter and Owen, as follows:
|SEM PLANNING PROCESS STEPS||Importance
Low ----------------- High
|1: Initiate and agree on a SEM planning process- the process of defining the purpose of the effort, who the decision makers are, who should be involved, steps in the process, expected deliverables, and governance structure for decision-making.||2||1||1||1||3.2|
|2: Identify organizational mandates- the process of clarifying the organization’s formal (legislated) and informal (political) mandates in answer to the questions: who are we?, what do we do?, for who?, where?, when?, and how?||2||3||4.2|
|3: Clarify SEM mission and values- the process of clarifying the organization’s SEM purpose (mission) and enduring values/beliefs.||1||1||1||2||3.8|
|4: Assess the SEM external and internal environments- the process of conducting a SWOT analysis of the organization’s enrollment-related internal Strengths and Weakness, and its external Opportunities and Threats.||2||2||1||3.8|
|5. Identify the SEM issues facing the organization- the process of identifying the policy questions or challenges that potentially will impact the organization’s SEM planning foundations (e.g., mission, vision, mandate, values).||2||3||4.6|
|6: Formulate SEM strategies to manage the issues- the process of identifying strategies focused on what people value, their choices regarding what they are willing to pay for, what actions they are willing to take, and with what consequences.||1||1||1||2||3.8|
|7: Review and adopt the SEM strategies or strategic plan- the process of review resulting in the approval to implement.||1||3||1||3.8|
|8- Establish an effective SEM vision- the process of clarifying what success looks like. In some situations, this step may occur earlier in the processes.||3||1||1||3.0|
|9- Develop an effective SEM implementation process- the process of developing an action plan that details who is to do what, by when, how, and includes expected results and milestones, accountability measures, mechanisms for data collection, and communications processes.||1||1||1||1||1||3.0|
|10- Reassess SEM strategies and the strategic planning process- the process of review to determine what worked and what may need to be changed.||1||2||1||1;||3.4|
Source: Based upon Bryson’s (2004) ten-step Strategic Change Cycle.
|SEM IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS STEPS||Importance
|1. Establish a sense of urgency||1||4||4.6|
|2. Form a powerful coalition||1||1||3||4.5|
|3. Create a vision for change||1||1||1||2||3.8|
|4. Communicate the vision||2||3||4.2|
|5. Empower others to act on the vision||2||2||1||3.8|
|6. Plan for and create short-term wins||3||1||1||3.6|
|7. Consolidate improvements, and produce still more change||2||2||1||3.8|
|8. Institutionalize new approaches||1||1||3||4.0|
Source: Kotter (1995) and Owen (2001) — eight steps to introducing transformative change
In considering what factors may have contributed to the variation in responses, two recurrent themes emerged in the in-depth interview process that provided insight, at least in part, to this result.
Consistent with change theory as articulated by Hossler (1990), and subsequently by Kotter (1995) and Owen (2001), all Chief Enrollment Managers (CEMs) in this study spoke to an enrollment and/or an enrollment-related financial crisis as the catalyst for change. It was the connection between enrollment and institutional budget, and the relationship between enrollment and the institution’s national ranking (a quasi indicator for market positioning) that created the sense of urgency.
In many respects, the objectives articulated by the CEMs resembled Kalsbeek’s (2006) constructs associated with various SEM planning orientations (i.e., academic, administrative, market-centred, and student-focused), with one exception — a focus on students. Results from the interviews indicated that although all five CEMs articulated objectives that reflected an academic orientation, other factors relating to market positioning and/or balancing “revenue, prestige, and access” were also important, and in some cases appeared to be more significant, depending on the institutional objectives at hand.
To illustrate the apparent linkage of objectives, outcomes, and measures to Kalsbeek’s four planning orientations, Kalsbeek’s constructs for SEM planning were used to organize results on outcomes and measures of success. Specifically, the following observations associated with Kalsbeek’s constructs for SEM planning orientations were drawn from the CEMs’ comments:
When queried about how the academic character and values of the institution had changed as a result of the SEM planning process, the CEMs interviewed spoke most frequently to five impacts which were, in large measure, consistent with Henderson’s characterization of organizations with an EM ethos centred within the academic context (2004):
Specifically, the CEM’s referenced:
Two strategies were recurrently mentioned:
Although there were no indications of formal process maps for how each CEM went about engaging the academic community in enrollment planning, several recurrent themes emerged in the discussion of factors contributing to the success of engaging the academic community. These were:
This study substantiated the relevance of many of the theories behind the practice of SEM. In particular, the study demonstrated that:
This study was undertaken to develop a deeper understanding of the conditions for success in building shared responsibility for enrollment outcomes with the academic community at medium-sized research-focused universities. In considering the findings from this study, the following ten questions may prove useful to SEM practitioners in their quest to reframe the SEM process from the academic lens:
Pre-interview survey- The purpose of the pre-interview survey was to identify which of ten planning stages, using the constructs of Bryson (2004), and which of eight steps to introducing transformative change, using the constructs of Kotter (1995) and Owen (2001) were considered to be the most important in engaging the academic community in a SEM process. The identified important stages were then used as the focus for the subsequent interview phase of the research. The pre-interview survey also was intended to mitigate potential bias in the interview process, given that the researcher occupied a SEM-practitioner role.
The one-hour in-depth semi-structured telephone interview- The purpose of the interview was to probe into each of the stages rated as important in the pre-interview survey, to gain more depth of understanding. The secondary research questions established for this study were used to frame the interview process to obtain information on the specific objectives, processes, procedures, outcomes, measures of success, and the lessons learned in the process. The following chart presents an overview of the general construct of the study.
|Research Questions||Related Questions|
Primary Research QuestionWhat processes and procedures were associated with SEM planning processes at research-focused institutions, in which the term 'successful' was defined through the ability to effect positive change through active participation by academic administrators and faculty in the process?
| In considering your experiences in leading a Strategic Enrollment (SEM) initiative at a research-focused institution, please indicate:
Secondary Research QuestionsFor each stage of the strategic planning and implementation process:
| Based upon your experience in leading a SEM initiative within a research-focused institution for each of the stages in the planning and implementation processes identified as most important on the pre-interview survey, please identify the following:
Contextual InformationAbout the Study Participant and Affiliated Institution
|About the SEM Planning Context||
|About the Study Participant’s Position and Roles of Others Involved||
Although the criteria for the study indicated that the CEMs must have at least five years experience, all five of the CEMs had more than 20 years experience within higher education, and specifically as leaders within the field of EM. Collectively, the five participants had 100 years experience as SEM professionals.
Two of the five participants were no longer associated with the affiliated institution they used as a point of reference in the study. However, all of the CEM’s had occupied senior leadership SEM roles for at least 7 years at the affiliated institution, and during their tenure had reported directly to the Provost or the Chancellor as an Associate Provost, Assistant Provost, Vice Chancellor, or Senior Vice-President. In addition, all CEMs reported that they were actively employed in the field of SEM at the time of the study.
In relation to their affiliation with professional associations, all cited the American Association of Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) as the primary organization of affiliation among a variety of others. In addition, all CEMs reported that they were either actively sought after as conference key note speakers, SEM consultants, and/or in authoring publications on the subject of SEM.
One attribute of the study participants that was not pre-defined in the research design was whether the affiliated institution that served as the point of reference should have been a private versus a public research-focused university. All research participants had served in enrollment management leadership roles at more than one type of institution (i.e., private, public, and/or not-for-profit). However, three of the five participants reported a public university as the affiliated institution of reference, while one participant reported a private university, and one reported a private not-for-profit university. Although some variation in responses may be attributed to the type of institution of reference, all study participants qualified their responses as appropriate to reflect whether their experiences differed by type of institution. Therefore, throughout the discussion of the research results in this paper, distinctions in responses were made where relevant to type of institution.
All affiliated universities used as points of reference in this study were located in the U.S., and were classified as leading research- intensive or extensive universities, as defined under the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/ Retrieved July 26, 2007). The focus on American universities was purposeful. The literature suggested that the concept of enrollment management was rooted within the American context dating back to 1976, and to the work of such authorities on the subject as Jack Maguire, who was commonly referred to as the father of enrollment management (Kalsbeek, 2006). Therefore, the researcher believed that the greatest insights into how to engage the academic community in the SEM process would emanate from the American context which had the longest history associated with what the literature suggested was an emerging and evolving profession from the mid-1970’s through to the beginning of the twenty-first century (Black, 2001; Bontrager, 2004b).
|Pre-Defined Selection Criteria||CEM Southeastern University||CEM Northeastern University||CEM Northwestern University||CEM Midwestern University||CEM Central University|
|Minimum of 5 years in a SEM leadership role||(>20 years)||(>20 years)||(>20 years)||(>20 years)||(>20 years)|
|Affiliate school is a medium-sized (15,000-20,000 students), research-focused university||Public University||Public University||Not-for-profit Private University||Public University||Public University|
|Demonstrated EM leadership role (e.g., Assistant/Associate Provost level)||EM leadership role at both private and public colleges and universities||EM leadership role at both private and public colleges and universities||EM leadership role at primarily private not-for-profit universities||EM leadership role at both private and public colleges and universities||EM leadership role at both private and public universities|
|Proven track record in engaging the academic community in the process||Recipient of SEM awards of distinction; Sought-after SEM consultant||Sought-after SEM consultant||Nationally recognized as a best practice leader; In demand as a SEM keynote speaker||Recognized for SEM research||Sought-after SEM presenter|
|Active membership in SEM-related professional associations||Active role in organizing and presenting at SEM related conferences||Active role in organizing and presenting at SEM related conferences||Active role in presenting at SEM related conferences||Active role in research and professional organizations||Active role in presenting at SEM related conferences|
|Fluency in SEM theory and concepts (e.g., conference presentations, publications)||Author of SEM articles and book chapters||Author of SEM articles and chapter books||Author of SEM articles and chapter books||Author, or co-author, of books, monographs, articles and book chapters||Published works on enrollment management|
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