The goal of strategic enrollment management is to develop and support a sustainable integrated system that maximizes enrollment and student success, creates fiscal stability, and allows the campus to be more responsive to changing demographics and other external forces. Aligned with the mission, vision and goals of UMSL’s Strategic Plan, this Strategic Enrollment Plan is a collaborative effort that better aligns institutional programs and services while enhancing strategies to recruit, retain and support students throughout their educational and career pathways.
The guiding principles of UMSL’s strategic enrollment management plan focus on:
- Identifying, recruiting, enrolling and graduating a diverse student population that is representative of the St. Louis region and beyond.
- Preserving our character and distinctiveness as a metropolitan, land-grant research university.
- Providing the greatest access to higher education possible for students within our service region.
- Aligning institutional resources with SEM initiatives.
- Committing to the success of all UMSL students with a focus on equity mindedness and social mobility.
UMSL strives to effectively serve its diverse student body by infusing equity-mindedness throughout its hiring process for faculty and staff, classroom instruction, and support services for students. This is evident, as UMSL is a four-time recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHTS into Diversity magazine – the oldest publication specializing in this area. Achieving equity in student outcomes is at the forefront of the Student Success Compact in the Strategic Plan. Therefore, the campus climate and ecosystem need to be enhanced with a focus on closing achievement gaps and establishing equitable outcomes for all UMSL students.
Social mobility refers to the shift in an individual’s socioeconomic status from one level to another. In 2019, UMSL was recognized by U.S. News and World Report on its inaugural college and university rankings for social mobility. UMSL was the top ranked institution in the St. Louis region and one of only two universities in Missouri who ranked in the top 100 for social mobility. One of the goals of this plan is to ensure that UMSL remains a vehicle for social mobility in the Midwest and continues to earn national distinction for its student outcomes. As an urban serving campus with a large proportion of first-generation, working-class students, social mobility is one area where UMSL can be a national exemplar.
Process and Methodology
The strategic enrollment planning process was approached from an institutionally-holistic perspective to engage in efforts that reflect the institution’s mission, vision and values, and is nested within the institution’s strategic plan. Planning efforts included participation from a broad, diverse and representative groups of faculty and staff.
The formal planning process began in August 2019, led by a Strategic Enrollment Planning Council consisting of academic and administrative leaders from across the campus, and followed a systematic planning process. The Council identified areas crucial to enrollment planning efforts at UMSL, and for each of the areas identified, established SEP Working Groups – consisting of faculty and staff with knowledge and experience in the area of focus – to lead research, analysis and strategy ideation. More than 100 faculty, staff and administrators were engaged in the process.
Each working group engaged in a series of planning exercises that led to several deliverables, including key performance indicators (KPIs), analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), a situation analysis and a list of potential strategies and tactics to drive enrollment.
Informed by planning assumptions, KPIs, SWOT analysis, and their situation analysis, each working group engaged in strategy ideation sessions designed to surface ideas to increase enrollment and address their KPIs. Working groups generated more than 160 tactics and strategies, which they then screened against several criteria, resulting in curated lists of top strategies for each group. As part of the strategy ideation process, working groups also identified more tactical ideas that required little/no financial investment, involved minimal effort, did not need cabinet level approval, but could deliver immediate positive impact on enrollment. Given the tactical nature of these ideas, they were not moved forward in the process, but instead highlighted for implementation as soon as operationally feasible.
Working groups presented initial strategies to the Council in 2020 when the response to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted educational delivery and ushered in virtual working and learning arrangements. Recognizing the pandemic’s potential impact on the institution’s operating performance – including near-term enrollment behavior and decisions – and the opportunity to quickly leverage the many ideas generated as part of SEP, UMSL leadership astutely adapted SEP to temporarily focus on exploring and implementing strategies to impact enrollment in the 2020-21 academic year.
Working groups quickly identified and presented short-term strategies expected to have a positive near-term enrollment impact. As selected strategies moved toward or continued with implementation, working groups returned their focus toward examining strategies with longer-term implementation and/or impact horizons. In late fall 2020, working groups presented the Council with their top long-term strategies, with those subsequently selected for implementation forming the foundation of this strategic enrollment plan. SEP leads developed a working draft in November which was shared with the university community. Feedback was gathered through January 2021 with a final plan was presented in March.
It is important to note that this website – as a forward-facing, public website – is intentionally limited in providing detailed information for each objective and action, corresponding investments as well as metrics that are reviewed quarterly to determine return on investments and potential for additional or changing actions throughout the life of the plan.
The SEP Leads are responsible for the on-going oversight of the plan. Leads will review the plan quarterly to determine potential changes in objectives or actions, as well as recommend additional investment based on enrollment growth and return on investment.
Thank you to the many individuals who more than a year and hours of research, engagement, debate, presenting and drafting UMSL's Strategic Enrollment Plan.