Board asks for breakdown of enrollment numbers

By Leah Nicolini

Trustee Timothy Struthers said the Board of Trustees needs more data to understand and make decisions on enrollment.

NIU enrollment hit a 34-year low with a decrease from 19,000 students last spring to 18,519 students this spring.

“… [I want] just a lot more bulk and not just random bullet points,” Struthers said at the Ad Hoc Enrollment Committee meeting Thursday. “I don’t feel a whole lot better now [seeing only one page of data]… .”

Struthers said he wanted more information like graphs, strategies, target markets, trends and initiatives so the board can properly understand what needs to happen to improve enrollment.

“It would be better if we were able to see the material and have a more meaningful conversation … .” Board Chair Marc Strauss said.

Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said the 2.5 percent or 481 student decrease in enrollment was a success because this spring is the lowest drop in enrollment in five years.

NIU President Doug Baker said to increase enrollment, NIU needs to shorten the time it takes to admit and enroll students.

Baker said the qualitative aspects involved in measuring things like this make the enrollment department “a little hesitant about interpreting all of these things.”

Final spring enrollment numbers came in last week, Weldy said.

“I’m still reviewing the data and information because there is a lot more, so I do apologize,” Weldy said. “I am definitely happy to meet with [Struthers] before the next meeting.”

Improving enrollment

Weldy said he wants to strengthen relationships with possible freshmen students and better attract community college students.

“Some schools want NIU at their school more for recruiting,” Weldy said. “There are definitely things we’re looking at in helping those numbers.”

Undergraduate Admissions Director Dani Rollins said the department is also interested in clarifying expectations for new students in hopes that it will increase enrollment.

Rollins showed the board a new marketing technique to encourage students who applied but left information blank or didn’t respond to their acceptance letter. Postcards will now be sent out, instead of letters and emails, to remind students to finish enrolling.

Sending postcards is more attention-grabbing and cost-effective, Rollins said.