President's Enrollment and Retention Council Progress Report

January 2011 - August 2011

Chairs: Warren Burggren, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Elizabeth With, Vice President for Student Affairs

The President's Enrollment and Retention Council spent the spring 2011 semester creating and finalizing a Strategic Enrollment Plan that reflects UNT’s goal of becoming a National Research University (NRU). With the focus of the PEC remaining on the Quadfecta (quality, quantity, diversity, and academic success), specific targets have been set to guide UNT’s pursuit toward NRU status and offering the best undergraduate education in Texas, as well as the methodologies by which they will be achieved. 

As UNT grows in size to 45,000 students by 2016, our student body also will reflect an improvement in overall quality.

  • Undergraduate: The quality of the freshman class of students is the primary indicator of overall undergraduate quality and therefore, focus will be on freshman.

UNT will:

  • Increase the average SAT score to at least 1,150 by 2016.
  • Ensure that by 2016 UNT’s freshman class consists of at least 70 percent from the top quarter of the high school class.
  • Graduate:

By 2016, UNT will increase:

  • average scores on standardized admissions tests of newly enrolled graduate student by 5 percent.
  • percentage of newly enrolled graduate students with relevant, professional work experience (note numerical goals to be developed following more detailed analysis).
  • number of newly enrolled graduate students who come with their own competitive, external funding (note numerical goals to be developed following more detailed analysis).

The PEC set an ambitious target enrollment of 45,000 students by 2016. UNT cannot simply (simplistically, even) continue non-differential, non-targeted growth and will begin focusing in areas that are poised and prepared for growth.

Areas to be differentially grown — that is, expanded at a greater rate because of 1) strategic importance, 2) favorable formula funding and/or 3) existing or new capacity — include (but are not limited to):

  • B.A.A.S. degree in selected areas within the College of Public Affairs and Community Service
  • doctoral programs in selected areas within the Colleges of Public Affairs and Community Service, Arts and Sciences, Education and Information
  • master’s programs, especially in the School of Hospitality Management and Merchandising and the Colleges of Education, Information, and Arts and Sciences
  • master’s programs, especially online and in a blended format
  • undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in Engineering

Specific targets for these and other programs are under development following capacity assessment with each College/School dean. Attracting more new students to UNT is obviously a purposeful part of our plan. Additionally, to contribute to reaching our target we are pursuing strategies to increase retention rates of our current students. Thus, we will ultimately reach our quantity target by increasing both continuing student return rates and new student enrollments.

At the same time UNT is committed to growing, UNT is wholly dedicated to being a model university that is inclusive of all backgrounds of talented students. In lay terms, UNT will strengthen its commitment to a “great mix.”  The following are key points for action:

  • Representational diversity: Recruit and support success for the “great mix” of students as measured by an inclusive range of diversity going beyond ethnicity and gender to include such factors as income level, veteran status, first-generation status, high-achieving status, disabilities, age and others.
  • Enrollment and graduation rates will be identified and strategies generated for their attainment that are representative of the respective availability group:
    • college-ready high school population
    • North Texas region community college population
    • eligible graduate student population in the nation (comparable to relevant peer universities)
    • international students
  • Inclusive definition of diversity: As often as possible, UNT will track the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates from the expanded focus areas of income level, veteran status, first-generation status, high-achieving status, disabilities, age and others.
  • At home in the world: Increase the number and effectiveness of the curricular and co-curricular offerings to ensure an educational journey that prepares UNT students for success in a global and diverse workplace.
  • Campus climate: Attain a campus environment where results of climate surveys indicating that UNT is a student-focused university ideally situated to students from diverse backgrounds and where all feel welcome, supported and treated equitably.
  • Unmet financial need: Decrease the percentage of unmet need for students receiving financial aid from 26 percent to 20 percent.

Academic Success
With increased enrollment and quality of students, it is important that UNT focus efforts on increasing the academic success of all students. Graduation and retention rates are the primary indicators of undergraduate success while graduate success is measured by reducing time to degree as well as increasing number of degrees awarded.

  • Undergraduate:
  • Increase First-time in College (FTIC) retention rate to at least 85 percent from 77.7 percent by 2016
  • Increase transfer retention rate to at least 80 percent from 73.2 percent by 2016
  • Increase FTIC 4-year graduation rate to at least 40 percent from 21 percent by 2016
  • Increase FTIC 6-year graduation rate to at least 60 percent from 48 percent by 2016
  • Increase transfer (those with more than 30 hours) to at least 60 percent from 54.2 percent by 2016
  • Graduate:
  • Graduate 200 Ph.D. students by 2015. Colleges and graduate programs to determine appropriate increases in graduation rates in non-Ph.D. doctoral programs.
  • Improve graduation rates of all doctoral programs to reach their national, disciplinary averages by 2016.
  • Improve master’s students’ graduation rates to reach national, disciplinary averages by 2016. Relevant, national data are currently being collected by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Task Force and Subcommittee Updates

Additionally, the President's Enrollment and Retention Council has charged a task force to explore opportunities to increase UNT’s distance learning programs in order to assist in our growth while also increasing the quality of instruction.

Task Force Findings:

The Task Force recommends that the President’s Enrollment Council move forward with all deliberate speed to:

  1. work with existing state online vendors or issue a RFP to determine which firm is best suited to meet our enrollment goals, maximize the return on our investment, and maintain our brand image
  2. undertake administrative infrastructure changes necessary to position UNT for being able to implement flexible course delivery formats at will, in eight-week, year-round semesters
  3. convert at least one program into the carousel model of delivery by fall 2012 in order to boost UNT enrollment as soon as possible.

The seven-month investigation of the task force led to several findings in support of the recommendation:

  1. The return on investment (ROI) for this model can be significant within a modest length of time. The task force concludes that this is a solid opportunity for UNT to quickly grow enrollment and generate revenue.
  2. An increasing number of our competitors are pursuing these options and making substantial strides in enrollment as a result, capturing program areas that challenge UNT’s market share.
  3. UNT has significant strengths that position it to enter this market, including:
    1. faculty members who have experience and skill in the delivery of online curriculum
    2. substantial distance learning resources and expertise
    3. programs that are well suited to online delivery
  4. This model reaches to a broader population who otherwise might not be able to achieve a UNT degree.
  5. Five academic programs have expressed an interest in developing such a model, with one program positioned for a potential fall 2012 startup.
  6. The model allows significant expansion of program offerings with modest demands upon the physical infrastructure of the campus.
  7. The areas of the greatest need for vendor assistance, as assessed by our programs, by the task force members and by the colleagues consulted from other institutions include market research and program marketing.
  8. Infrastructure resources and the designation of this as a top priority are essential to success. If sufficient resources at UNT and the UNT System are made available to provide the startup infrastructure – for university and graduate school admissions, registrar, financial aid, and faculty support for curricular alignment, in particular – UNT could be prepared to offer a program in this model as early as next fall.

Subcommittee to Boost Spring 2012 Enrollment

This subcommittee has met during the fall 2011 semester and has identified over 20 initiatives to increase enrollment for the spring 2012 semester.  The work of this committee will continue through the spring semester to institutionalize these efforts for future semesters/students.

Next steps:

  • Organize subcommittees by the following:
  • Transfer (Troy Johnson, chair)
  • FTIC (Dale Tampke, chair)
  • Graduate (Jim Meernik, chair)

All subcommittees continue to meet and are making recommendations to the President's Enrollment and Retention Council and/or the President's Finance Council based upon their work.

  • Ensure that existing committees synergistically fulfill the charge of the PEC (Enrollment Management Committee, Retention/Graduation Committee).
  • Engage in active planning with deans to develop specific targets and specific resource needs.
  • Critically review our policies and business practices to maximize alignment with PEC goals (perhaps engage the President's Management Excellence Council here).



Other Councils and Council reports