No Issues Expected Despite Departure

COLIN LIKAS | Editor-In-Chief

Butler University is continuing enrollment processes for fall 2014 and 2015 as scheduled despite the recent departure of a key enrollment management division member.

Provost Kathryn Morris said she does not believe “a leadership turnover means there are concerns that things are going to fall apart,” in reference to Tom Weede’s departure from the institution last month.

Weede, former vice president of enrollment management, stepped down from his position after six years in early December, according to an email from Butler President James Danko.

The email said Weede left his role to “pursue other opportunities.” Weede could not be reached for comment.

Danko was unable to comment on the circumstances surrounding Weede’s departure from Butler, according to an email from Ben Hunter, chief of staff.

With Weede running Butler’s enrollment management division, the university saw three classes of more than 1,000 students, including an all-time high 1,111 students in 2012.

A number of Butler staff members are working to ensure Weede’s loss will not negatively affect this fall’s or other future enrollment totals.

“I think one thing that’s very important for everyone to understand is that the enrollment management division has done a really great job consistently across time,” Morris said. “We’ve seen a great deal of increase in the number of students who are applying, and our class sizes have increased.”

Morris—who oversees Butler’s academics—is working with Director of Financial Aid Melissa Smurdon, Director of Admission Aimee Scheuermann, and Vice President of Marketing and Communications Matthew Mindrum to keep enrollment, recruitment and yielding processes running smoothly.

Yield refers to the number of admitted students to a school who end up enrolling at that school.

This is different from recruiting, which is done to draw in new applicants who can be considered for admission.

Danko also provides assistance to the four when necessary, Morris and Smurdon said.

Morris said Weede’s departure provided an opportunity for different departments to improve communication with one another with regard to enrollment and recruiting.

For example, both Smurdon and Scheuermann met with the Provost Advisory Council—an academic leadership group on campus—individually earlier this month to brainstorm more ways to connect Butler academics and enrollment.

Smurdon said she and Scheuermann have been able to directly converse with Danko on matters relating to enrollment and recruitment as well since Weede’s departure.

“Normal status updates (in the past), we would update Tom, and Tom would have a regular meeting with the president,” Smurdon said. “But now we have regular meetings with the president, and Matt and Kate are usually included in that.”

Smurdon and Morris said much of the work needed to help yield the fall 2014 class and recruit members to the fall 2015 class was done prior to Weede’s move.

Email campaigning will take place this spring with the goal of yielding the fall 2014 class. Smurdon said the campaign is a series of four or five emails, one of which used to be called “Myths and Facts.”

“It is some of the more frequently asked questions, things that people hear that might not be on target with what we want them to know,” Smurdon said.

Mindrum plays an important role in supporting the campaign’s creation and distribution, Smurdon said.

A final idea the team is working on pertains more to current faculty members who want to be involved in recruitment.

An email will be sent out to faculty inviting them to participate in one or more focus groups, depending on the response, to talk about faculty involvement in the recruitment process.

Morris said the email could result in many different ideas for faculty interaction with prospective students.

“We just have to wrap our arms around that a little bit to find out where faculty interests lie and match those faculty interests with opportunities,” Morris said.

Although Butler lost an enrollment management leader in Weede, Smurdon said a valuable opportunity arrived with his departure.

“This change, especially with a lot more communication from Kate, with (the Office of) Admission, with Matt, really is just a great opportunity to search for improvement,” Smurdon said. “What has been working has worked well, but we are always continuously looking for ways to improve.”