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Articles: Enrollment & Retention

With skilled workers in demand by industry and student enrollment declining, ignoring diversity initiatives is impractical, even unproductive.

Joseph Brennan is vice president of communications and marketing, and clinical professor of business at the University at Albany. Mark Weaver owns Communications Counsel, an Ohio-based firm that advises universities on crisis communications. He teaches at The Ohio State University College of Law, the University of Akron, and the School of Government at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Based on our decades of experience counseling campus CEOs, we’ve identified the key behaviors successful presidents use to lead their institutions through the tough times.

Iowa State is partnering with EdR and River Caddis Development (Memphis) to add 320,000 square feet of student residential and mixed-use retail space to the southwest corner of campus.

Some local agencies across the country help colleges plant trees where the campus community can enjoy them, even if it’s not on campus. (Photo courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation).

Besides reducing emissions, higher ed institutions can reduce the impact of their carbon footprint in other ways, including getting credit for trees planted.

BACK A BOILER—Purdue's self-funded ISA program has served 160 juniors and seniors since its launch in fall 2016 and will include sophomores as of next school year. Students with any major may participate in the program, launched as part of a broader effort to make college affordable.

The ISA concept, which many describe as selling stock in yourself, is now an emerging hot topic within the higher ed financing debate.

An income-share agreement (ISA) is an alternative to using student loans to finance higher education. Rather than a loan, a student agrees to pay a percentage of their future income for a set number of years back to the investor, which could be a university that funds its own ISA or a pool of investors that has launched an ISA.

ISA provider 13th Avenue, which is currently talking to several institutions about setting up ISA pilot programs, has found that funding is a key challenge. “The schools are interested, but they are reluctant to fund the program so we are busy trying to raise money,” says Casey Jennings, chief operating officer.

ISA provider Vemo Education and the Jain Family Institute, a nonprofit think tank that supports the development of ISAs, are also in the exploratory phase with a handful of higher ed institutions interested in making the investment to launch their own ISAs.

CLICK AND LEARN–The University of Washington’s sustainability map features seven main categories related to higher ed campus sustainability and dozens  of examples, from the location of charging stations to recycling bins.

Many institutions shine a spotlight on their sustainability efforts by creating online maps to showcase eco-friendly sites and green activities on campus—areas of interest to both the student body and the general public.

THE BIG EVENT—In 2016, when President Barack Obama visited the University of Nebraska at Omaha, more than 10,000 higher ed students, faculty, staff and community members attended an event at the campus arena.

Colleges may already prepare extensively for VIPs, but a deeper level of cross-campus coordination can ensure a smooth visit even when protests or other disruptions occur.

Adults need more flexible higher ed programs that allow them to do college coursework remotely and at their own pace and at any time. (GettyImages.com: Kali9)

A newly formed advocacy organization hopes to smooth the process for busy adults looking to attend college.

Keeping college students emotionally healthy comes down to the resources campuses are willing to provide. (GettyImages.com: Solstock)

The growing demand for mental health treatment on campuses resulted in part from a national effort, mounted over the last decade or so, to eliminate stigmas and get more students to seek help when grappling with emotional distress.

“The last thing colleges want to do is put a former student in collections,” says Harrison Wadsworth, executive director of the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations. But when internal efforts to collect tuition don’t work, it’s important to have somewhere to turn for help.

Today, with increased attention on student success and the long-term effects of unpaid accounts, institutions need to recognize the impact financial services staff have on recruitment and retention. It’s a shift to thinking more about the big picture.

MOBILE MINDFULNESS—UT Austin higher ed students and faculty using  Thrive at UT can take a few minutes to read daily and weekly gratitude reflections. Interactive quizzes help students apply the concepts to their own lives.

A well-being app encourages students at The University of Texas at Austin to stay in the moment—via the device that often takes them out of it: their phone.

The Core Campus Project—a mixed-use addition to Clemson University—includes student housing, retail and residential dining, and is also a centralized home for the Calhoun Honors College.

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