You are here


Ellis Hall at Hendrix College

Imagine arriving on campus as a prospective student, being greeted by name by the security guard at the gate, pulling into a parking spot with your name on it, and then seeing your name featured prominently on signage in the admissions office. There you meet up with a student tour guide from your hometown who is studying just what you think you’ll study.

That scenario is a reality at Lynn University (Fla.), which gives new meaning to the “where everybody knows your name” sort of welcome.

While a CRM system might revolutionize people’s ability to do their jobs, getting everyone on board isn’t always easy. Technology isn’t necessarily the challenge with a new initiative, says Alan Walsh, functional chief, lifetime engagement at Indiana University, Bloomington. “The true challenge, as is often the case, is with the culture. But culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

In its infancy, constituent relationship management technology was confined to the admissions and development offices. Campus administrators realized the system was a great way to communicate with prospective students and potential donors, but didn’t realize it would play well with other departments on campus. With a little more maturity, CRM made its way to the alumni relations office, a natural progression from development office technology.

Social media gurus and CRM providers share a vision for a future where CRM and social media go hand in hand. But the idea is in its early stages.

“The CRM system assumes that everything is data, whereas most of what you’re talking about is people and conversations with people,” shares Michael Staton, founder of Inigral, creator of the Schools App. The goal? “A CRM where the entire premise is that you’re interacting, you’re not just logging data about accounts and tracking potential revenue,” he says.

Acceptance of cloud computing—the practice of storing data in off-site servers rather than on campus—has been growing by leaps and bounds, at least in some areas. “It’s growing in the areas easier to rip and replace, such as CRM,” says Stan Swete, chief technology officer at Workday, which offers HR and Payroll systems through software as a service (SaaS).


With a web-based interface allowing for staffers across the institution to input information, officials at Central Methodist University, located in Fayette, Mo., figured that awarding scholarships would be a breeze. After all, admission counselors, coaches, and others could easily enter academic and extracurricular credentials for accepted students, allowing for the appropriate officials to approve scholarships and notify the recipients.

The second year of the ongoing Models of Efficiency program continues to demonstrate that campus departments can be innovative and inspired when it comes to finding ways to provide superior service and maximize resources.

"We believe that improving the efficiency of administrative services yields cost savings and reputation benefits that can propel a college into the top tier of success," noted Miles Lasater, chief operations officer and cofounder of Higher One, which has sponsored the Models of Efficiency program from the start.

Did you get the memo on website accessibility? With the latest legal and regulatory developments, you’d better make sure you did. The time is now for web accessibility in higher education. 

The cost to enroll a student is averaging approximately $6,000 and this cost doubles with the replacement of every student lost. Due to the recent financial climate, most states are facing financial cutbacks, making student retention paramount. Top reasons for attrition include school preparedness, financial support, academic progress, dissatisfaction with support services, and social readiness. So how can we keep students on track for graduation?

In 1999, the North Dakota University System coordinated a roundtable discussion inviting its board of directors, K-12 administrators, employers, and others to address their expectations of the university.

"It was a landmark event in North Dakota's higher ed history," explains Michel Hillman, vice chancellor of academic and student affairs at NDUS in Bismarck, which has 11 campuses. "What was recommended was a consistent set of accountability measures."