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UB Reporter

Campus News

Study seeks to redefine graduate enrollment management

By CORY NEALON

Published June 19, 2014

“Traditionally, operations and services for students at the graduate level on college and university campuses have been fractured.”
Christopher Connor, assistant dean
UB Graduate Enrollment Management Services

As colleges and universities grapple with rising tuition costs, ensuring that their graduates find jobs and other challenges, they are reassessing how they do business.

At the forefront of enrollment is recruiting and admissions. At the graduate level, the notion of creating a “one-stop shop” and “full-service orientation” that bridges that gap between the function of academic planning, budgeting, advising, registration and financial aid may be necessary to improve productivity, continuity and, above all else, a differentiated student experience.

“Traditionally, operations and services for students at the graduate level on college and university campuses have been fractured” says Christopher Connor, UB assistant dean for graduate enrollment management services.

Accordingly, he is working with Joshua LaFave, director of graduate studies at SUNY Potsdam, on a research project to develop a definition of graduate enrollment management—or “GEM” as it’s often called—and a best-practice model.

“Our main goal with this project is to establish a sound definition for GEM, based on the most current research of our profession. Hopefully, this will assist institutions in bridging the gap between the necessary operational and strategic aspects of the graduate enterprise and enable us all to become more cohesive and effective,” Connor explains.

The work is being conducted in multiple phases across the U.S. for the National Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP), which is the only professional organization devoted exclusively to individuals working in graduate enrollment management. With more than 1,600 members, NAGAP provides unique research and training perspectives, as well as opportunities to network with colleagues at all types of institutions: large and small, public and private, secular and non-secular.

LaFave chairs NAGAP’s Research and Global Issues Committee, and Connor serves on the committee.

They are examining the operational and strategic constructs that lead to improved efficiencies, budgetary maintenance and an increased understanding of how to improve, yet differentiate, the graduate student experience on campus. Specifically, they’re looking at NAGAP members’ roles and responsibilities, while analyzing structure, process and student experience.

“What we are really seeing is a diversification of the GEM professional,” says LaFave. “Providing a ‘one-stop shop’ increases the perception of a differentiated student experience and paves the way for stronger relationships with students from awareness to graduation and beyond.”  

LaFave and Connor hypothesize that the current GEM model is an interdependent one where there is some interdepartmental collaboration in support of the graduate student lifecycle. However, with professionals supporting multiple phases of this lifecycle, an integrated interdependence model supports stronger relationships and a differentiated student experience on campus.

Connor and LaFave expect to complete their research and publish their findings in 2014.