Recruitment suffers from lack of staff, budget


Rut Ortiz

An empty Center for Academic Writing will only become more common as furloughs continue to be pushed on staff and faculty by the NEIU administration.

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

This past week’s Forward 150 discussion was “Recruitment 101,” in which the retention rates of students to the university were examined in a presentation by Dr. Janice Herring-Hendon, associate vice president for enrollment services. Strategies to bring in freshman, students from other universities and receiving more graduate students were discussed within the panel.

The lack of a state budget is creating an effect that trickles down to student recruitment and retainment. Students are applying and attending other state colleges and universities because the budget crisis has “created an ominous back-drop,” according to Herring-Hendon.

In 2016 the university accepted over 11,000 applications in Spring, Summer and Fall semesters from students and transfers, but only about 4,600 enrolled. “I’ve been in enrollment management a long time, and I have to say, I’ve never seen such an incredibly challenging recruitment environment,” Herring-Hendon said during the discussion panel. “The competition is absolutely fierce.” States like New Jersey, Wisconsin and Iowa are retaining more students from Illinois, making it difficult for public universities like NEIU to enroll students.

Staffing within recruitment services only has a director, an assistant director, three recruiters, a coordinator and two in-house admissions counselors. In comparison, UIC has a total of 13 recruiters. “Even though we’ve had some staff added in the last year, we’re still running behind,” Herring-Hendon stated.

The hiring freeze that the university initiated due to the budget crisis prevents the department from getting more recruiters and staff. This in turn affects how many students the school reaches out to. “The only thing that will keep us from a salary-savings plan, or furlough program, is receiving adequate funding from the state,” Interim President Helldobler said at the Board of Trustees meeting, on April 6.

But most important is getting students to stay at the NEIU. “The conversion rates are what matter right now, said Herring-Hendon. The presentation discussed the “work-in-progress” recruitment plan, which will implement many marketing strategies to attract students to NEIU, including telephone push campaigns, high school territory travel, campus tours that are scheduled throughout the year, State Articulation Conferences in September that bring hundreds of high school guidance counselors to NEIU, open houses, FAFSA workshops and scholarship sessions.

“More and more of what we’re finding is that guidance counselors and parents are encouraging and sending students out of state,” said Herring-Hendon. “The degree is being devalued, but in spite of it all, we’ll move forward in smarter, bolder, creative and very measured ways.”