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Staff Senate recap

Senators hear updates on enrollment strategy and trends as well as ongoing Self-service Banner 9 upgrades.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 26, 2021

JSSB exterior and fall foliage.Mary Sauceda, associate vice president of Enrollment Management, joined the Staff Senate’s Oct. 12 meeting to give a broad update on enrollment strategy and trends at Metropolitan State University of Denver and across the higher-education spectrum.

In response to an 8.2% fall-to-fall enrollment decline among undergraduate students, Sauceda and her team are prioritizing strategy and looking to relaunch the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan in alignment with the University’s 2030 Strategic Plan. She also addressed concerns about local and national enrollment declines across higher education, noting that enrollment has been on the decline over the past eight or nine years (after an enrollment boom inspired by the 2008 Great Recession). Additionally, shifting student demographics and perspectives along with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be enrollment hurdles. Students also cited mental health, a desire to work (and, conversely, unemployment), balancing competing commitments and the need to take a break as reasons they chose not to pursue higher education.

As the pool of prospective students contracts, MSU Denver is also facing increased competition from other institutions for adult learners and nontraditional students. Sauceda said other Colorado universities are changing their tuition, financial-aid and recruitment practices to attract the students who typically would gravitate toward MSU Denver. While MSU Denver’s recruitment of high school students and adult learners is up, transfer applicants are down. That trend speaks to the declining enrollments in local community colleges, which serve as MSU Denver’s transfer pipeline. For example, Community College of Denver, MSU Denver’s largest feeder institution, saw an enrollment decline of 12% this fall.

Michael Nguyen, director of Enrollment Management Systems and Operations, joined the conversation to shed light on students who were admitted but didn’t enroll and register at MSU Denver. Nguyen explained that the University is seeing more of these students landing with other four-year state public institutions over the past couple of years. In the past, these students often landed at community colleges.

“I think the pandemic has really changed the landscape in terms of recruitment and resources that can be deployed by universities to attract students,” Nguyen said.

Sauceda also noted that MSU Denver is shifting from a reactive enrollment-and-recruitment mode, which was necessary during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, to a proactive one that includes reengagement efforts, getting back into high schools and community colleges for in-person recruitment, and communicating with students about mental-health resources. She added that positive experiences with MSU Denver faculty and staff members can be one of the most powerful recruitment and retention strategies.

“It just takes one encounter with one person to keep (a student) on board,” Sauceda said.  “As you interface with students, as you’re engaging in policy, (consider) the ways we’re working against ourselves. How can we make it easier for our students to navigate our University and improve their student experience?”

In response to questions about the work-study award process for student employees, Sauceda explained that if a student expresses interest in work-study funds on their FAFSA forms, such funding is awarded to the student. Additionally, if the student was awarded work-study funds in the previous academic year, they are automatically approved for a second year. To set up work-study disbursements, students must submit an employment form to the Financial Aid Office upon employment. The initial financial-aid award letter that students receive from MSU Denver will also indicate work-study approval status. More information on work-study eligibility is available on the Financial Aid website.

Sauceda also answered questions on enrollment growth vs. scale, federal and state financial aid, tuition rates, perceived value, Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund funding, emergency funds and more.

Banner 9 upgrade

The Self-Service Banner 9 upgrade, a nine-month effort, went live Oct. 11. This upgrade provides a fresh user experience, new tools and significantly improved functionality for all MSU Denver students, faculty members and staff members. Learn more on the Information Technology Services Self-Service Banner 9 upgrade-initiative webpage.

As a reminder, Finance and Human Resources will move to Workday in late 2022.

Committee updates:

  • The Staff Senate’s $15,000 one-time funding request to cover senator stipends has not yet been approved, but a decision is expected by early November.
  • The Staff Senate Policy Review Committee continues to discuss the approved sick-leave policy for student employees in hopes of advocating for increased sick-time accrual for student employees.
  • The Inclusive Data Policy is now the Gender and Sexual Orientation Data Policy and continues to undergo revisions. The Staff Senate Policy Review Committee has not yet reviewed the revised policy.
  • The Communications Committee is working to streamline the Staff Senate SharePoint site and develop an improved calendar process.
  • Staff Senate President Rebecca Reid gave an outline of the Faculty Workload Task Force’s progress and is considering how staff and administrative workloads might be impacted should faculty workloads be reduced.
  • The Staff Senate has some remaining discretionary funds and is considering how those monies should be used. The Staff Senate Budget Committee discussed an application process to disburse funds and support requests from individuals and committees. Please email the Staff Senate Executive Committee with other ideas and recommendations related to the disbursal process.
  • Staff members should also remind students to complete their CASFA and FAFSA applications.
  • Check the Early Bird for updates on the Diversity Strategic Plan.

Topics: Events, Inclusive leadership, Staff Senate

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