Noel-Levitz presents plans for enrollment boost

At the November Board of Governors meeting Nov. 21, Lou Sanborne, leader of Noel-Levitz’s strategic enrollment planning and Missouri Southern’s retention project leader, gave a 25-minute presentation looking into the past and future of enrollment at the University.

Southern began working with Noel-Levitz in February 2012 and has already began to see results from the partnership.

The role of Noel-Levitz, according to Sanborne, is to provide a comprehensive analysis of enrollment and implement strategies to combat the sluggish areas.

In terms of overall enrollment, Southern suffered only a slight drop from 2013-14, going from 5,616 to 5,613.

“We stabilized from 2013 to 2014, but that’s in the face of declining enrollment in the four-year public college sector nationwide,” said Sanborne. “Holding steady is really a positive outcome.”

After his initial recap of the past couple of years, Sanborne looked to the current plans being implemented and to the future.

A few of the major points Sanborne emphasized were:

• The faculty is the most important group on the frontlines for retention.

• The success of Lion Pride tuition has been a major help with retention and recruitment.

• Every school’s number one recruiting tool is its website.

• Dual credit courses in high school are the new way of the world.

While Sanborne painted most of the progress made as good, some administrators at the meeting were left with questions.

“How can we be up, up, up in so many different areas, but still be down in overall enrollment, even if it is only three students?” said Pat Lipira, vice president of academic affairs.

Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs, explained one major reason for that trend.

“We are losing students down the line, especially because we have such a high percentage of part-time students,” said Fullerton.

He went on to explain that a third of students at Southern do what he referred to as “stopping-out,” which is when a student drops out for at least a year, but then returns. He believes those are the ones being missed when looking at enrollment.

“There have been significant advances, but we are nowhere close to finished,” said Fullerton.