This archived article was written by: Tadd Mecham
It is no secret that student enrollment has fallen this year, 310 students less than last semester. Seeing this as a major problem, the college hired the enrollment management consultant firm Scannell & Kurz to analyze the enrollment organization and process. During this process they reviewed enrollment documents, held focus-group interviews, and made a recommendation of how to fix the problem.
They suggested stronger leadership in enrollment services, and also a stronger connection between the Logan campus and USU Eastern’s enrollment services. They stressed that enrollment should be the Student Services highest priority. The failure to improve enrollment would mean a decrease in revenue the college creates, meaning if enrollment continues to go down, tuition at USU Eastern would rise, making it harder on the students attending.
The enrollment consultants made it a point that “time is your enemy” and that not making changes as quickly as possible would result in future enrollment problems similar to ones being faced now. Thus the college set into motion an entire restructuring of the Student Services organization. Everything in Student Services is said to change under this new structure.
The new organization will be split into three main departments, according to an e-mail sent to all Student Services employees from Chancellor Joe Peterson.
The Department of Enrollment Services will be responsible to come up with effective recruitment and admissions strategies. Financial aid and records and registration are to function within this department. Those included will be evaluated on contributions to achieving enrollment goals.
The Department of Student Success is responsible for the improvement in student success. Academic advisement and the counseling center will report here. Those working in this department will be evaluated by their contributions to student success goals achievement.
The Department of Student Life, Leadership and Involvement, is responsible for creating a campus environment that will be both attractive to new students and retain continuing students. Student government, student activities, auxiliaries, and the SUN Center will all report here, these all being evaluated on their contributions to enrollment goals and student success.
Over these three departments is Alex Herzog, Ed. D. who will lead these departments in achieving their assigned outcomes.
Then comes the part that upset both the students and those holding jobs in Student Services. With all of these changes, 18 individuals were informed the positions they currently hold are eliminated effective Nov. 30, 2011.
Those losing their positions were given a few options. These include applying for positions in the new departments, choosing a severance package or early retirement if eligible.
Those in Student Services were informed of this on Friday, Nov. 4, and were given one week to make the life changing decision of what to do next. November 11 being the deadline to make the decision, and students being unsure of what exactly was going on with all the rumors, a meeting was held for students on Monday November 7 to inform and discuss what students could do to help.
Student Body President Thomas Garvin hosted the meeting, informing the students of the situation and answering questions anyone had. He also said the new department revision makes complete sense business wise, but ethically it doesn’t, stating that, “we’re a family, not a business.”
During this meeting, he stressed that those losing their positions need more time. Every person attending met him in complete agreement, and students began asking what they could do to change this. Some students asked about a protest, which was something seen as a last resort. Garvin wanted to stress that anything done had to be in a positive manner, and that things like going on strike from classes will hurt not only those faculty members teaching the classes, but student grades as well. Garvin said, “We just want them [administration] to know that we met, we’re upset, we’re going to do something about it.”
It was decided that a letter would be sent to both Chancellor [Joe] Peterson and the Administrative Office in Logan, asking them to push the deadline forward and give those losing their positions more time to decide what they are going to do. Another meeting was then scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 11:30 a.m., to meet with not only the student body, but the press and those who were affected by the restructuring.
Thinking this meeting would only bring up more questions, students were met with a pleasant surprise. The administration of the USU Eastern campus listened to us as students.
The deadline for turning in applications for rehire was pushed forward. The positions being eliminated as soon as Nov. 30 were pushed back as well, though the specifics of when the new deadlines were not released. Garvin said that he feels it is an appropriate amount of time.
Upon hearing this news, Garvin told the students what we could do for the next step. “We can use supportive communication to get those who lost positions back on campus. We need to let them know of our need for them.” He addressed those of the Student Services staff sitting in the audience, “we want you to know how much we need you on this campus.”
Jan Young, registrar then stood and thanked everyone for their support. She, and the entire Student Services staff that were there were met with a standing ovation.
The student voices were heard and their goal of giving the staff more time was achieved.