Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership Wrap-up

June 12, 2008

I am finally home from Rochester after stopping by SUNY Geneseo where my friend and colleague Sal Ciolino – Associate VP of Enrollment and Director of Institutional Analysis went to college. We got a wonderful walking tour of the town and campus and enjoyed lunch at the local inn.

The Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership conference was a success. It was very interesting listening to college presidents talk about their institutions success and challenges.

The three most interesting sessions for me were

S&K Conference – Bond Ratings Session

June 11, 2008

What is a bond rating – a ranking system based on criteria. Purpose is to generate report cards of economic and financial health for people who buy educational bonds. Bond investors are less knowledgeable than board members.

  • 21 categories
  • no relationship with US News and World Report

Top 10 used

AAA is the best followed by AA1 AA2 AA3 A1 A2 A3 Baa1 Baa2 Baa3

Things they review for bond ratings

market position
Prospective Students / Retention

Management Governance
Presidential Leadership / Senior Leadership team

Operational Results and Balance Sheet
Operating margins, debt service, fund raising capacity, size and financial restrictions

Debt capacity and structure
Degree of operating, balance sheet leverage, future capital needs, use of variable rate debts and swaps

Data they review
Total resources as compared to debt
Expendable resources to debt
Expendable resources to revenue
Operating Margin %
Net tuition per student
Tuition discount %
Net Tuition and auxiliary revenue contribution %

Over the last 6 years more schools have been upgraded rather than downgraded.


  • Strong president is essential but dangerous
  • higher ed explains itself poorly
  • higher ed has a great business model


  • demographic changes
    key strategies to meet challenge – retention, improve student services, endowment for fin aid, diversity in staff and faculty
  • Geography – where students come from
    key strategies to meet challenge – expand recruiting territories, use of facilities in summer, partnerships with schools abroad and in urban areas, more on-line investments
  • pricing for value – market will tolerate tuition increases
    key strategies to meet challenge – career placement, market oriented degrees, partnerships with employees
  • Student load access – 08/09 likely to be roughest year
  • Better staffing needed
  • Financial Complexity

S&K Conference – What trustees need to know about enrollment management?

June 11, 2008

Tom Flynn President of Alvernia College

How you approach board education has to be in tune with board and institutional culture.

The less experienced you are the more cautious you should be.

Ideal overall curriculum includes

  • institutional knowledge – functional areas of institution, priorities, key issues
  • External Environment – this is where we fall down, trends, threats, opportunities
  • Planning and Strategy – explanation of how planning works
  • Board Governance and Culture
  • Academic Culture

Enrollment Management for the board is critical for keys to goals, revenue, image, customer satisfaction, outcomes.

Curriculum for each area is embedded into a committee meeting. This helps the board learn along the way. You can try joint committee meetings.

Enrollment Management is joint sub committee of educational affairs and finance. This is a new mold at Alvernia. VP’s need to “staff” committee chairs for their reports to the board


Enrollment Management is complex. Makes it difficult to communicate to trustees who are a diverse audience. EM lends itself to information overload. Emphasize balance of broad themes and specific data. It’s your job to think about what they need to add value.

Most of the public understands enrollment through the lens of the media.

Avoid tactical conversations but emphasize enrollment and marketing strategy.

10 lessons

  1. Aligning mission and market – understand the institutions position
  2. What’s the data say – monitor trends and data based decision making
  3. Managing Trade Offs – developing models and scenarios
  4. It’s about more than the freshman – understand overall discount rate
  5. It’s about more than more freshman – shaping the profile
  6. It’s about the demand stupid! – working the funnel
  7. Moving beyond friendliness – develop a brand
  8. When life looks like … Easy street – contingency planning and models
  9. Are we dressed for success? – integrating institutional success
  10. What gets measured gets done – developing a dashboard

S&K Conference – What is the future of higher ed financing?

June 10, 2008

What is the future of higher ed financing? – Ronald Ehrenberg – Director Cornell Higher Education Research Institutre from the Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership Conference. Ron was not able to give the paper so a former student of his Mike Rizzo was able to step in and deliver the paper.

Is higher ed at a turning point? What are the problems?

We are no longer the leader in college attendance rates per it’s population.

Issues addressed today:

Why has tuition risen so much in both private and public schools?

What can the federal government to to increase access?

If we are at a turning point how will that change how higher ed “does business”?

Mike took us through lots of the factors for private schools and why tuitions are rising and the financial pressures are for private institutions.

Public school costs have increased as well. Even though the percentage increase in publics is higher since the overall cost is lower the gap continues to grow.

He then spent some time talking about how the federal government can help but how they have to balance where they spend their time.

He ended with ways higher ed should think about changing business process.

S&K Conference – Extending your brand

June 10, 2008

Extending your Brand by Robert Sevier – VP for Strategy at Stamats from the Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership Conference.

Marketing is not promotion.

Talk about “them” not about “us”

create forums for them to talk about them.

Promotion is downward, sender centric not audience centric, and easiest least effective way to communicate.

“One of the sad things is how not often annual fund and admissions work together”
Fewer marketing dollars you have to spend the more integrated you need to be.
Integrated marketing means people have to row together.

technology has changed but the strategy has not changed

Look at your key materials and read the text from the view of your audience. Remember people scan text and don’t read. Need to really look at the quality of your execution of brand strategy is it innovative and integrated.

differentiate yourself from your key competitors in ways your audience cares about.

Find what makes you compelling – if you were to drop off the earth today which audience would miss you the most.

Who has marketing plans? Not just budgets and calendars.
Plan the work and work the plan – then you don’t have to implement every idea – without data it’s only an opinion.

What do you really really really really know.

Do you have the courage to re-allocate dollars?

Do you have the “will”?

If you are not testing strategies you are not getting better.

your job is not to send out stuff but rather to get a response.

Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership Live Blogging President’s Panel

June 10, 2008

Panel Discussion on Strategic Planning led by three presidents:

George Martin – St. George’s University
Lisa Marsh Ryerson – Wells College
Thomas F. Flynn – Alvernia College

George Martin:
Strategic Planning for the small university for the 21st century

St. Eds – catholic liberal arts in austin texas 5300 students – ending 10 year plan
1999 – 4 months after he arrived presented plan for 2010


distinctive – you must have a niche

must offer high quality programs

serve both traditional and non traditional students – need to create partnerships and discover potential markets and attract support.

campus based facilities of the highest quality facilities

vision of the plan – become the one of the best small colleges in the country

Challenges they faced

Inadequate data

low level of awareness

limited fundraising

no marketing leadership

no integrated IT leadership

many out of date buildings

limited to year to year planning


belief in mission

commitment to transformation

strong financial management


What happened

Grew enrollment

invested 134 million dollars in facilities and invested other monies in technology

Endowment increased 91.5%

Recognized by US news and other national media outlets

How did it happen?

They found NEW ways of working. No stone was unturned. Move indicators of institutional health TOGETHER. you can’t operate in a bubble. Integrated strategic planning. developed in house capacity analysis model. They evaluated their plan annually and always asked what did work and why and what didn’t work and why.

Communication was key to change management. Can’t assume people in our community know what we are doing! People want to feel a part of something larger…






Lisa Marsh Ryerson

Planning needs to be dynamic and integrated.

it all starts with the college mission and the president has the job of supporting and being a steward of the mission.


Private undergraduate – 2004 co-educational move. This fall 30% male in the class. FY class 325 to 575 rural location in finger lakes – annual operating budget 21.4 million

challenges facing Wells in 1990’s

decreasing enrollment

net tution revenue not pulling weight

discount rate through roof

looked at the most critical issues and tackled those first. They did not want to change core mission but needed more revenue immediately.

Reduced tuition in 1998 by $5,000 (30%)

little financial risk and opportunity for increased enrollment

they were concerned that it would say Wells was unstable so they had 2 marketing firms working with them.

they saw 14% increase in enrollment and 23% increase in net tuition revenue.

These were short term fixes. But allowed them to pull community back together. Co-education was the next step to sustain Wells.

She talked about a symphony of planning

strategic plan

senior staff plan

divisional tactical plans

Thomas F. Flynn

second presidency – was a fill in for this session. 3 years at Alvernia.

Will do a more nuts and bolts presentation.

asked 2 questions at planning sessions in his first year –

  • How do we get better.
  • What do you want to tell the President.

Wanted to “think” of ourselves as a university rather than a liberal arts college.

broad inclusive process. They did strategic planning and campus master plan at the same time.

clear expectations for their staff.

they had a disintegrated marketing approach – but it was in pockets

Invested in leadership/marketing/enrollment

getting ready to do a redesign of the website.

Doing things at the same time is difficult but sometimes you need to do things simultaneously.

Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership Live Blogging

June 10, 2008

I am in Rochester this week retreating with my Gettysburg College team and attending the Scannell & Kurz Enrollment Leadership conference.

S&K welcomes 115 attendees from 59 higher education institutions and 7 organizations to its first annual leadership conference, June 9-11, 2008.

Reinventing Enrollment Leadership:  Creative Thinking for Challenging Times

Jim Scannell started this morning and welcomed everyone leading off the conference with some comments.

He stated his goals of the conference to keep people fresh and stay current. Over the years they have recommended  different  conferences including

  • snomass
  • academic impressions

“We planned to put together an all star cast” more excited about leadership profile of the attendees.

30 Chief Enrollment officers and a dozen CEO and numerous CFO and Chief Academic Officers are in attendance.