SBU turns to Iowa consulting firm to boost slipping student enrollment
Trustees hear plan to be executed over next 3 years
By Allen Palmeri
May 17, 2005
BOLIVAR – Troubled by a three-year decline in enrollment, the Southwest Baptist University Board of Trustees voted May 10 to empower the Noel-Levitz professional consulting firm of Des Moines, Iowa, to revamp the university’s approach to student recruitment.
Trustees agreed to spend $350,500 over three years in an effort to improve four areas, SBU President Pat Taylor said. These primary targets are financial aid, market research, student profiling and increasing the university’s prospect pool.
“They’re going to be mentoring us on how to do a better job,” said trustee Gary Longenecker, who recently retired as pastor, First Baptist Church, Lebanon.
Peter Bryant, Noel-Levitz senior vice president, said that one of his goals will be to increase total enrollment on the Bolivar campus from 1,538 to at least 1,600 by 2008.
“You’re really building on a strong foundation here,” Bryant told trustees. “You’re not broken.”
SBU’s recruiting techniques are really going to benefit from what Noel-Levitz has to offer, Taylor said. The goal is to build up the university’s existing prospect base from 8,500 names to 12,000 or even 15,000. Texas and Florida are examples of states where SBU must do better, Taylor said.
“We need to expand our horizons,” he said.
Trustees adopted a preliminary operating budget of $34.2 million for 2005-2006. A finalized budget is set to be adopted in the Oct. 11-12 board meeting.
Taylor said a total of $62,034,957 has been raised through the Partners in Excellence campaign. Ten construction projects costing about $27 million have been completed, he said.
In other trustee business:
• Trustees were told that SBU is sending 42 students out on summer mission trips and that many more would be going on trips with their home churches.
• Trustees David Tolliver and Longenecker encouraged SBU staffers to consider ways to work with the Missouri Baptist Convention and International Mission Board (IMB) through their existing partnerships with Romania and various Middle Eastern countries. Longenecker is one of the MBC’s volunteer team leaders partnering with the IMB on a five-year project to work with a people group in Turkey and several Middle East nations.
Trustees heard a creative presentation by Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), “The Giving Team,” led by SIFE President Andrew Lynch. He and fellow student leaders Brittany Wilhelm and Jonathan Robert alternated speaking as slides were shown. For 21 consecutive years, the SIFE team at SBU has distinguished itself as regional champions.