Is an Enrollment Management Plan Really Necessary?
by Silence Dogood

Just over three years ago, on September 20, 2011, President Potter gave Dr. Mahmoud Saffari, Vice President for Enrollment Management, ninety days notice that his contract was being terminated (i.e., that he was being fired). Dr. Potter stated that his firing was, in part, because he failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. Three years later, there is still no enrollment management plan and, surprisingly, no one else has been fired. Perhaps the lack of an Enrollment Management Plan was just a ruse for getting rid of Dr. Saffari because it certainly seems that there has been no urgency to develop one since Dr. Saffari’s departure.

In the fiscal year following Dr. Saffari’s departure, SCSU lost 5.4% FYE enrollment, followed the next year by another 5.0% FYE enrollment decline. The administration is projecting another loss between 4-5% this year. The cumulative enrollment loss over the three-year period FY13-FY15 is 14.2%. That’s assuming that the enrollment is only down this academic year by 4.5%.

In order to better predict enrollments, three years ago President Potter formed the Data Analytics Group. The Data Analytics Group’s enrollment prediction for FY14 was a projected loss of 2.4% enrollment. Enrollment dropped by 5.0%. Last March, the Data Analytics Group’s enrollment projection for this year was for a loss of 3.2% enrollment. That number has since been raised to a loss of between 4-5%. As a result of their consistent and significant underestimating of the enrollment declines the past two years, it is really difficult to believe that the projections of the Data Analytics Group are accurate.

Minnesota State University—Mankato has a lot of information that is available on its website to anyone with a computer. This certainly isn’t the case for SCSU where lots of information simply isn’t available, not updated, or only available to people having access to the SharePoint website.

One of the notable pieces of information that is publically available on Mankato’s website is their Enrollment Management Plan.

Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is a total of three pages long and contains aspirational goals that can be readily assessed. Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan is reproduced below.

In the three years since Dr. Saffari’s departure, President Potter has failed to develop an Enrollment Management Plan. The only thing resembling an Enrollment Management Plan that has come from Dr. Potter is that he is ‘right sizing’ the university. If you do not have a plan all roads lead to an unknown destination. Mankato has specific goals so they know where they are going and at critical decision points they can choose a path with a higher probability of reaching their goal. Since SCSU has no plan, decisions are made without consideration of the intended final destination. It appears that SCSU is proclaiming that we arrived at our destination and claim that was where we were going all along. As a result, I suggest that SCSU use Mankato’s Enrollment Management Plan as template. With a few changes, it will give SCSU some goals that the university can work toward achieving. Having a plan, even the Mankato plan, would give SCSU some goals to work towards and a means of assessing the university’s progress towards those goals. Right now all we have is someone saying we’re ‘right sizing.’

With the assumption that SCSU only loses 4.5% this year, which is an overly optimistic projection, SCSU will have lost 21.5% of its FYE enrollment in five years. On the other hand, from its Enrollment Management Plan, it is clear that Mankato is aspiring to grow its headcount enrollment from 15,000 to 17,000 by 2017. Clearly, SCSU and Mankato are heading in different directions. If you had a choice, which path would you chose? Apparently, Minnesota students and parents are choosing and it doesn’t look too good for SCSU.

One Response to “Mankato’s enrollment management plan vs. St. Cloud State’s right-sizing”

  • Not my Daughter says:

    St Cloud State is now seen as a 2nd Rate minority / diversity catch all that has begun permeating the City of St Cloud itself.
    With an influx of a projected 150,000 NEW resettled refugees headed to the US you can bet that the Non profit LSS machine is licking its chops for those dollars. Their liberal minded partners in St Cloud who can’t see the forest for the trees (except when cutting them down to build a Habitat home for 9 and more on the way) will find more buy here pay here car guys, more free cell phone and translation services…oh yes and perhaps a dose of ebola.

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