SFA Reorganization Aimed at Boosting Student Enrollment, Retention

As part of an enhanced emphasis on attracting and retaining students, Stephen F. Austin State University has announced reorganization of certain activities. These activities include recruiting, admissions, registration and advising and the creation of a senior-level administrative position to oversee these newly combined functions.

SFA President Tito Guerrero decided to hire an executive director of enrollment management after an in-depth study of enrollment trends and the student recruitment process.

"Today the enrollment function has evolved to the point where a more highly coordinated system is required. All the entities involved in recruiting and enrolling students should speak with one voice," Dr. Guerrero said. "This is a top priority for the university - one that should result in greater coordination among offices and allow us to maximize the dollars spent in these areas. We immediately will begin a national search for an enrollment management professional with the experience and skills to take us in this new direction."

This initiative is in line with goals of a strategic planning process that is nearing completion and with the state's goal to make a college education accessible to more Texans.

For five of the past six semesters, SFA enrollment increased over the same period the year before. Guerrero said creation of this position aims to build on that momentum and position SFA as an attractive choice for students throughout the state.

"The university is stepping up its marketing and outreach efforts after hiring a new director of public affairs. Part of the charge of the new executive director of enrollment management will be to work closely with the director of public affairs and others across the campus in a unified, integrated marketing initiative," Guerrero said.

This person also will be charged with projecting enrollment trends based on data and with coordinating a comprehensive statewide student recruitment effort. Improving student retention, also among priorities, prompted the university to increase admission standards beginning with the fall 2003 semester. While the immediate result may be a decline in undergraduates, experience shows that higher admission standards lead to both increased student retention and graduation rates and boost enrollment in the long run.

With much higher costs anticipated at Texas' larger public universities, efforts to strengthen SFA's enrollment and retention also should position the university to take advantage of prospective students seeking value for their educational dollar.

The executive director of enrollment management will head the Office of Enrollment Services and Student Success. Reporting to the position will be the offices of the registrar, academic advising and SFA 101, a freshman orientation course. The new position will report to the Office of the Provost.

(Courtesy: Susan Hammons)