Orchestrating an Enrollment Management Transformation

Orchestrating an Enrollment Management Transformation

Karen L. Pedersen (Northern Arizona University, USA), Terri Hayes (Northern Arizona University, USA) and Tim Copeland (DemandEngine, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5051-0.ch015


This case chronicles the beginnings of an enrollment management transformation currently underway at The Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University. After flat enrollments for three plus years, the organization executed a phased plan to alter the university’s enrollment trajectory. A complete reorganization, an intentional effort to operationalize enrollment marketing best practice, and the establishment of a data-driven organization comprise the foundations of the first phase of the plan. While specific to Northern Arizona University, the case will also highlight six foundations for initiating any enrollment management transformational journey.
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Organization Background

Northern Arizona University (NAU), located in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a public institution serving approximately 25,000 students. NAU’s focus on an undergraduate residential experience is strengthened by a robust professional and continuing education unit, Extended Campuses (EC).

Over 30 years ago, EC became the conduit by which academic programs were accessible at a distance from the Flagstaff campus. With a median age of 32, learners served by EC complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in seven distinct degree categories or disciplines (e.g., arts and humanities, business and administration, computing and technology, education and counseling, health professions, math and science, social science including intelligence studies, justice studies and public administration). Over the years the number of academic programs grew to accommodate the market needs of the day. Today, approximately 1/3 of the total NAU enrollments are learners completing coursework through EC either in a classroom away from the campus in Flagstaff, and/or online.

Early on, faculty traveled by car, plane or train to teach classes around the state. Years later, classes were taught using interactive television linking learners in several locations together. Many of today’s courses/programs are being offered primarily in the evenings and on weekends at a network of 35 community campuses throughout the state. Most of these campuses are located on community college campuses to ease the transition for community college graduates. The 2NAU program (a collaborative concurrent admission and transition opportunity for community college learners/graduates throughout the state) has further enhanced the institution-to-institution articulation and transfer for learners. Traditional 2 + 2 programs are quite common. In addition, the handful of 90/30 programs offered in collaboration with community colleges in Arizona are very attractive degree completion options. The 90/30 programs allow for up to 90 hours of specific coursework to be transferred from a community college.

In addition to the classroom-based delivery option, EC also offers online, hybrid or blended format courses/programs in different session lengths (e.g., 5-weeks, 7, 8, 12 and 16). In 2012, nearly 45% of EC learners were completing their degree entirely online. Repurposing online learning in a new and different way, EC has developed Personalized Learning (PL) for self-directed, online learners. PL is an innovative, competency-based online learning initiative making NAU the first public higher education institution approved by its regional accreditor to offer competency-based undergraduate programs.

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