University Council looks at retainment issues at meeting


Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Eric Weldy spoke on matters regarding student retention, recruitment, financial assistance, transfer articulation, and student success during Wednesday’s University Council in the Skyroom of the Holmes Student Center.

By James Green

NIU President Doug Baker said student retention will be one of the university’s biggest keys to future success at Wednesday’s University Council meeting.

Eric Weldy, vice president for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, spoke about strategies being developed to raise NIU’s enrollment at the meeting.

“We have a moral and professional obligation to help our students succeed,” Baker said.

Weldy said enrollment is not just recruitment and marketing, but also what NIU is doing to keep its students. He said he has worked closely with Academic Affairs, hiring a consultant, Noel Levitz, to take a look at undergraduate, graduate, scholarship and financial aid operations. Weldy said many students aren’t fully aware of the advantages available to them, and he is looking to change that.

“A lot of responsibility falls on us to make sure our students are informed,” Weldy said. “It takes effort on students’ part, too, but we still need to do what we can.”

Weldy said about 40 percent of students who drop out are in good academic standing but leave school because they are unable to cover the costs of education. He said NIU offers many one- and two-year scholarships, but comparatively few four-year scholarships.

“It’s great for getting students in the door, but as students continue in their education they need more support than that,” Weldy said. “One thing I’m proposing is offering more than just one student transfer scholarship.”

NIU’s relationship with community colleges is also being looked into. Weldy said nearly half of NIU students have transferred from another school. Baker hopes that workshops scheduled for October will help bring ideas to the table on this matter. There is also a “student success retreat” scheduled for Nov. 18. Staff members will discuss how NIU can offer more to students in regard to retention at the retreat.

The Student Association also reported at the meeting. The SA met with both DeKalb and non-profit leaders to discuss student engagement and how the school and the city can collaborate in the future.

“We really want to establish a good crossover between NIU and DeKalb and overall engagement, such as volunteer work,” said Mike Theodore, SA chief of staff.

With the focus on student engagement and reaching out to students, Weldy and Baker are optimistic about NIU’s enrollment.

“We have everything in place to move forward,” Weldy said. “We just have to market those things to students.”