Lamar State College-Port Arthur Engineers a Recruitment Marvel
John W. Dysart
The Dysart Group
It had been a difficult period for enrollment at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. Applications and acceptances had been on a downward spiral and new student enrollments had dropped nearly 50% since 2009. These trends occurred during a time of tight budgets and declining funding for public colleges and universities. This community college in Texas needed a real enrollment overhaul.
I had the pleasure of working with the new President, Dr. Betty Reynard and the newly minted Dean of Student Services (chief enrollment officer), Dr. Deborrah Hebert early last year to design and implement a brand new recruitment and financial aid model. We agreed to move away from the traditional “community college” or “two-year college” recruitment model and substitute a hybrid approach with tactics and philosophies more commonly used by private colleges and universities. It is an approach that emphasizes systematic personal communication with prospective students and data-informed decision-making. It was not an easy task as personnel and financial resources were extremely limited.
- A new structure was introduced for the Offices of Admission, Financial Aid and Academic Advising. It was impossible to fund any new positions, so several divisions were just restructured and available resources re-allocated. Job titles, responsibilities, hours and assignments were changed. A new Enrollment Services division was created.
- Concerned individuals from across campus willingly volunteered in the creation of a Recruitment Task Force to design and implement the new model. This team included representatives from both faculty and staff.
- The entire admission and financial aid paperwork processes were stream-lined and automated.
- The College announced a new scholarship program, new Orientation activities and a new advising approach, along with a new Leadership Program.
- The enrollment offices were relocated while work and visitor spaces were re-designed.
- A new financial aid award policy was agreed upon and the changes impacted both new students and currently enrolled students.
- Faculty were charged with creating detailed training materials including bullet point cheat sheets and PowerPoint presentations to better educate admission counselors on the elements of each major and offering. Particular attention was paid to educational technology and employment/career outcomes.
Results after the initial cycle have been impressive. The outcomes have been encouraging:
- Total headcount increased 14%.
- New student enrollments increased by 30%.
- Freshmen enrollments grew by 27%.
None of these extraordinary results would have been possible without dedicated cooperation, effective
leadership and hard work. Administrators, faculty and staff logged extra hours, broke down divisional silos and worked together collaboratively. Congratulations to everyone at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. The future for this community college in the hometown of Janis Joplin looks very promising!