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Work In Progress - Jan. 31, 2016

  • Wednesday, Feb 3, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I hope the start of the semester is going well! It has been fun over the past few weeks to feel the energy level pick up with the return of students and faculty to campus. I’m a little bit afraid about how fast this semester will go—I usually find that spring goes quickly, fall went by in a heartbeat, and we’ve already worked through two weeks of the semester…

January Seminar

I was thrilled with the level of engagement I felt during January Seminar. The opportunities for professional development were well attended, the spirit at the plenary session I hosted was exceptional, and engagement during the small group work that followed was remarkable. I’m glad that some of you who were not able to attend were able to follow along with the streaming of the plenary session; my remarks and the questions that followed are available online, as are some quick updates on current topics. If you can only spare a few moments, I’d recommend listening to the kudos—the examples that fellow faculty and staff shared about some of the outstanding work happening here at Edgewood College (that starts at 27:00 on the video). As you know, great things are happening here! Special thanks to the Academic Dean’s Office for their work (along with Dominican Mission, Human Resources, and ITSO) to get the semester of to such a strong start.

Spring Enrollment

Spring enrollment is not yet absolutely final but it seems clear that we will, like many private colleges this year, be slightly short of our revised net revenue target for the semester. I do not envision needing to take specific steps for this semester, though I know our academic leadership has been working to scale back course offerings appropriately in response to lower-than-expected enrollment. At the same time, I would request that all budget managers continue to carefully steward the dollars they’ve been entrusted. If there was ever a good time for having a “use it or lose it” mindset (and I’m not convinced there ever has been one), this is certainly not it.

Enrollment and budget for 2016-17

These two topics are closely related, as well over 90% of the College’s revenues come from either tuition or student-generated revenues. When spring enrollment numbers firm up, we will revisit our assumptions for fall—it is too early to tell whether those need to be modified or not. As I’ve shared before, the Planning & Budget Committee and Cabinet are currently working on the 2016-17 operating budget (with an eye toward a three-year timeline). In addition, I will be seeking advice from the Board of Trustees, both as a whole board and through the Enrollment Management and Finance, Audit, & Investment Committees (respectively) over the next few months.

While we prepare for the upcoming year, each of us can continue to shape what enrollment looks like. How?

  • Delivering on our promise to help students connect learning, beliefs, and action. More than ever, student retention is essential both indirectly (as an indicator that we’re delivering on that promise) and directly—as a way to sustain sufficient revenue.
  • Assisting our admissions staff with the various recruitment efforts already underway.
    • Applications for undergraduate/freshman admission are behind our goal for fall, which means that yield (the percentage of admitted students who enroll) is even more critical than ever. There is some encouraging news on that front, including housing contracts and registrations for yield events. Phone calls and emails to students, along with participation in upcoming yield events are among the ways that many of you can contribute to next year’s freshman class. Many of you will be called on individually, but please feel free to contact Derek Johnson (derekjohnson@edgewood.edu) if you are interested in helping to build relationships with prospective students.
    • The graduate application season will pick up during the spring and summer, but if you have an interest in assisting with our graduate recruitment efforts, please contact Jenna Alsteen at jalsteen@edgewood.edu.
  • Pursuing novel approaches to meeting the educational needs of our community. Those might include expanding programs currently at capacity, enhancing offerings to become more distinctive, modifying delivery formats, repackaging existing programs, developing creative partnerships in the community…the list could go on. We cannot be static in a dynamic world. If you have thoughts, ideas or suggestions related to improving the ways we meet the educational needs of our community, please reach out to Dean Pribbenow.

Strategy

Thanks to those of you—well over 100!—who participated in the small group visioning exercises during January Seminar. The Strategy Steering Group started to work through the ideas you generated, and to utilize both our foundational documents and a recent description of a great vision as a way to advance that work. We will continue to keep you posted about the progress of this process, and will also seek further engagement throughout the semester…including at our upcoming College Assembly (4:00 p.m. on Monday, February 8).

Dream Week

I had the opportunity to attend a number of Dream Week events during the first week of class—including the State MLK ceremony at the Capitol on Monday of that week, a teach-in in the President’s Office Wednesday (seen here), and the MLK Student Award Banquet on Friday. I thought the title of the Award Banquet on Friday was apt—“Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere,” as it so clearly draws on our shared commitment to social justice. Further, it reminds us that even if we are not on the receiving end of injustice directly, we are diminished when any member of our community is affected. Let us redouble our efforts toward a more inclusive campus climate. And speaking of campus climate, keep your eyes open for a climate survey which will be distributed electronically in the next few weeks.

And speaking of electronic distribution…

Please be especially vigilant about your email accounts. As our Information Technology staff has shared, hackers are attacking Edgewood College users with phishing scams. If you are unsure about whether an email is legitimate, err on the side of caution and report to TAC.

This seemingly small detail is actually pretty important. First, when an account is compromised it takes extensive work for both the individual and for the ITSO staff to restore security and access. At times, it takes days for individuals to get access back…days of lower productivity. Less evident internally—but perhaps more important externally—such events hurt the College’s email reputation score. That means that emails we send—to potential students or donors, for example—may be marked as spam. It also affects our inbound email—a benefactor emailed me this morning, and his email bounced back. (See above for why this matters).

Noteworthy notes

I was excited to hear from Jay Hatheway (Chairperson and Professor of History) that he recently received a personal letter from President Obama thanking him for his efforts to end discrimination against gay and lesbian people in the military.

Women’s basketball player Rachel Pope scored her 1000th point on January 23 in a home game victory over Dominican University. Rachel is the 10th player in Edgewood College Women’s Basketball history to reach that mark.