Strategic Enrollment Management in a Decentralized Environment


Strategic Enrollment Management in a Decentralized Environment

Episode 86. January 11, 2022.

Welcome to the Office Hours with EAB podcast. You can join the conversation on social media using #EABOfficeHours. Follow the podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Stitcher or visit our podcast homepage for additional episodes.

IUPUI Chief Enrollment Officer Dr. Boyd Bradshaw joins EAB’s Owen Crean to talk about the importance of strategic enrollment management and the challenges of getting everyone on the same page within a distributed leadership structure. Dr. Bradshaw outlines the structure of a modern enrollment management program and talks about how to break down silos that can hamper recruiting efforts.

Finally, he and Owen share tips for engaging campus stakeholders to fix data inconsistencies, set realistic goals, and apply a consistent framework that guides all recruiting efforts.


Enrollment management is institutional planning. If you have a division of enrollment management on your campus and all you're doing is operational type work, you're selling yourself short. - Dr. Boyd Bradshaw




0:00:11.4 Speaker 1: Hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. We're joined today by Dr. Boyd Bradshaw, the Chief Enrollment Officer at IUPUI, which is a partnership between Indiana and Purdue Universities, an institution that serves over 30,000 students. These students may choose from among a combined 550 degree programs offered by either IU or Purdue. As you might imagine, there are a few cooks in the kitchen, when it comes to the enrollment management function there. Dr. Bradshaw shares tips for establishing a modern strategic enrollment management structure within a decentralized environment. Give him a listen, and enjoy.


0:00:53.2 Owen Crean: Hello and welcome to Office Hours with EAB. My name is Owen Crean, and I serve as a Managing Director and Principal here at EAB. I spend a lot of my time working with university leaders to help them both set and achieve their goals across a number of different terrains, one of which of course is enrollment. And today, I'm super excited to be joined on the podcast by someone who is on the front line of that work every day. My friend, Dr. Boyd Bradshaw, the Chief Enrollment Officer at IUPUI, Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis. Welcome to the program, Boyd.

0:01:29.9 Boyd Bradshaw: Thanks, Owen. It's a great pleasure to be here today, and I'm excited to have this conversation.

0:01:34.8 OC: I appreciate you taking the time. Before we dive in Boyd, you and I talk a lot about baseball. For our listeners, Boyd's a Cardinals fan, I'm a Braves fan. So before we dive in, I have to ask, Boyd, do you have any public reactions to the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series this year? And, part two, any World Series projections for 2022?

0:01:56.2 BB: Well, because I dislike the Dodgers so much, I was excited to see the Braves get to the World Series and win it this year. I can be a Braves fan as long as St. Louis is not playing, but my prediction is easy, it's gonna be St. Louis next year.

0:02:10.7 OC: I love it, I appreciate it. I had to use this platform to ask that question, even though it was probably a little bit out of left field, if you will. So anyways, back to it. This podcast was originally to be titled Enrollment Management in the Age of COVID, but I think Boyd, you and I are probably pretty tired of talking about COVID. It was funny, just a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to facilitate a president's discussion at EAB's Presidential Experience Lab and one president or chancellor specifically requested that we don't mention Omicron or COVID in any of our discussions, and so that actually made for a nice conversation for the hour that that lasted. And so we've made a little bit of a pivot today, and the theme for today's conversation is something very relevant in Boyd's world, specifically at IUPUI. Which will be, Strategic Enrollment Management in a Decentralized Environment. And so, Boyd's an expert here, and I'm really looking forward to the conversation. And there's a lot to unpack. So, why don't we go ahead and get started? And first, Boyd, if you wouldn't mind, could you just kind of ground us in telling us a little bit more about yourself and your institution? The name IUPUI can sometimes be a mouthful, so for our listeners and those that might not be familiar with your institution, can you just give us a little bit of a background on yourself and your role at IUPUI?

0:03:26.9 BB: Sure, Owen. Yeah, IUPUI, you really have to put a descriptor to it when you talk about it. And just for context, I have been at Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis for about six years. I arrived back in 2016, and it has been a great experience for me. I do have over 20 plus years of higher Ed experience as a Chief Enrollment Officer at other institutions as well. But I would have to say that IUPUI has been one of my biggest and greatest challenges, but also one of the biggest accomplishments in the work that we do. We offer two types of degree programs, we offer programs from... Degree programs from Indiana University and also from Purdue University. And as the theme of this being decentralized, we are as decentralized as you can get as a campus and even offering two different degrees. And we also have two satellite campuses, one in Fort Wayne and one in Columbus that we're responsible for as well.

0:04:28.1 OC: Thanks. One of the themes here is that your work clearly is very much in a decentralized environment, and at EAB one of the things we talk about a lot is budget models and how to incentivize desired behaviors on campus. So, whether your budget model is zero-based or incremental or full-blown RCM or Responsibility Centered Management for those unfamiliar with the term RCM. One of the most important things that we tell our partner institutions is just to make sure that you're aligning your budget model to strategic goals. And so, would you mind talking about in a world where you're in a decentralized environment, could you talk a little bit about IUPUI's budget model and how you, as the enrollment executive, use this budget model to try to incentivize growth at IUPUI?

0:05:13.0 BB: Sure. As you mentioned, being decentralized, our budget model also follows a decentralized approach, which is the RCM model, which you had mentioned, is Responsible Center Management. And what that means to us as an institution, and for those of you that might not be aware, we have 17 academic schools. And within the 17 academic schools the tuition dollars that come in by credit hour goes directly to the schools, and then the schools are taxed at a certain percentage and that's how the rest of the campus functions and operates. And so, there's a great incentive for the deans and for the academic schools to bring in healthy enrollment, that they can invest back into their schools. And so, it does create a type of competition that is a little more unique than a centralized model, where everyone benefits from the enrollment growth. For us, it is particularly the schools that benefit the most, in regards to the number of students, the longer the students stay, graduation. We're not just talking about recruitment, we have a lot of focus on retention as well on our campus, but it does create some unique challenges for us.

0:06:21.9 OC: Yeah. I wanna dive a little into the details on how you do that at IUPUI. I know that you recently gave a presentation at AACRAO SEM Conference, down in Miami, and I'm told from some colleagues who were down there, that it was very well received and that you've actually shared a particular framework and a methodology that guides your work at IUPUI. Could you tell our listeners a little bit more about that framework, how you developed it, why and how it's going?

0:06:46.5 BB: Sure. I think first, it goes back to how enrollment management was created within the structure of IUPUI. When I started back in 2016, we had actually moved from an enrollment services model, to enrollment management, and actually changed the name to the Division of Enrollment Management. That was a key piece of educating the campus. And a lot of what I do on my campus is really to be a resource for the rest of the campus. And one of the easiest things that we do, and some say it might not be easy, but is to get the word out about our operation and defining what strategic enrollment management is all about. And there's three key words that come in mind when I think about the definition of strategic enrollment management that a campus really needs to be familiar with. We do provide services, but the term is not a service, it's a concept. So, the word "key concept" is important. It's a unique framework, and it's comprehensive institutional planning.

0:07:50.7 BB: And so many universities throughout the country have a strategic plan, many of them have a strategic enrollment plan. What I have found, in my experience is that one doesn't talk to the other. And so, one of the biggest things that we have done at IUPUI is make sure that our strategic enrollment plan is aligned perfectly to our strategic plan. And the way that has been done is that we have goal four, within our strategic plan, which is called Optimize Our Enrollment Management. So, that brings the entire campus together to focus on the optimization. It doesn't say to grow, it doesn't say to shape, it's optimize, which gives us the flexibility to really react to what the market is telling us each year in, year out, and we use that as we move forward and we set goals. So, that is one piece, Owen, of the framework.

0:08:41.5 BB: The other piece I think that's really important, if you think about enrollment management and the evolution of this. Encore actually, a few years ago, and it was work that was done through EduVentures, created this maturity model. And we have used it, and you can go out and Google EduVentures Enrollment Management Maturity Model, you can locate it. It is a model that shows how the evolution enrollment management back in the 80s, when it originated to where it's at today. Where it's become more movement from operational, which is really that service piece of enrollment management to more of an integrated approach. And I would say at IUPUI, we are more strategic than we ever have been, but we're not as integrated as we need to be in order to be successful. And, one example of integration would be looking at the complete life cycle of a student. From the time that they become interested, through the time that they graduate, and they give back in some capacity to the institution. And making sure you have strategies at each stage of that funnel, both from the recruitment side and also from the retention side.

0:09:49.9 OC: Got it, that's helpful. And very helpful context to have. One of the things that I hear from you and your peers when you look at the student life cycle from all the way from the recruitment phase to being an enrolled student, a lot of folks are struggling with yield right now. Any guidance or any observations, just from the market right now, in what you're seeing with universities who are struggling with yield?

0:10:14.7 BB: I think the pandemic really has had an impact. And that I know that today we're trying to stay away from the pandemic, but also it is with us and it's going to be with us for a long time. And so I think a lot of universities throughout the country are looking at different ways to get students more interested, so that yield percentage would actually increase. We have seen with our data over a three-year period, so prior to the pandemic of 2019 to where we're at today, we have received the right number of applications and the right number of admitted students, we have not yielded at the levels that we have before to be successful. And for us at IUPUI, that is a must. We can't meet our enrollment goals if our yield is not where it needs to be. We're not that fortunate as a campus. And so what we've done this year is we've created a campus-wide approach to yield where we've gotten our key stakeholders across campus, including all the schools, and we've identified yield champions in each of the schools to help assist us in making sure that we're all marching in the same direction. That we're more centralized in the approach than decentralized where that decentralization could cause us to go in different directions, we're trying to get everyone to move in the same direction. And to today, right now, I would say we've been pretty successful. We're trending well right now, but it's early in the enrollment cycle.

0:11:40.2 OC: Good. And speaking of decentralization in pursuit, in a world where you're pursuing growth, the area that I focus on, as you know, Boyd, is graduate and adult. And so, a lot of folks and your peers really turning to the graduate and adult populations to backfill potential lost revenues that they might see in the undergraduate space, specifically because of demographics. And you and I both know demographics doesn't mean destiny, we need to think about market share. But, back to the adult and grad piece, how do you all approach that growth piece in a distributed environment or decentralized environment? What does that look like? Is the accountability at the dean level again? Is it with the individual academic units? How do you help guide and set folks up for success in a world where graduate and adult enrollments are a key part of the revenue strategy?

0:12:31.8 BB: That is a great question. And I would say, when we talk about challenges in that enrollment management maturity model that I had mentioned, moving from more of an operational to an integrated approach that's truly integration when you start looking at different types of students, the grad, the adult student. I oversee as a Chief Enrollment Officer at IUPUI, the operations that supports undergraduate students when it comes to recruiting students, so the office of undergraduate admissions. But if you take it one step further, I also oversee the office of the registrar and the office of Student Financial Services, which is our financial aid and our scholarship office.

0:13:11.2 BB: Those two offices support the entire campus, undergrad, grad, professional school programs, all types of students. Undergrad Admissions only support the undergraduates, so that is very decentralized. We talk about schools being decentralized; our graduate school is also part of that decentralization. And then the adult market is also an area that we aren't as sophisticated, or as centralized as we can be in recruiting those students, and so we are looking at different technologies, and different ways to do that. I am intrigued on some of the work that you've done at EAB around graduate an adult anything that you can elaborate on that you think, I guess, from a decentralized standpoint, where those types of tools might be helpful?

0:13:58.6 OC: Yeah, absolutely, and one of the things that we find that a lot of your peers suffer from is exactly that, is that decentralization, and when you're decentralized in the graduate and adult space there becomes a lack of scale. And so the degree of separation between the Presidential mandate to grow, if you will, and the levels of separation between that mandate to grow and the individuals actually accountable for that growth, at the actual recruitment and coordinator-type level, is often at the individual programs, and so with those degrees of separation you lose scale. And so what EAB tries to do is we have an entire division within our enrollment services area called Adult Learner Recruitment, and our entire purpose there is to help university partners achieve scale, both in their audience generation and then their marketing recruitment to students at scale.

0:14:47.8 OC: And so we've invested heavily in the use of big data, and consumer analytics, and what that allows us to do is to really surgically find your students, so students that would have the highest propensity to enroll at IUPUI, students that have the highest affinity for your institution, and for your programs, and to be able to fill the funnel, both top, middle, and bottom with those right fit students, and anyone that would be a right fit for your institution. We don't wanna disqualify students that... Because we think they're specific to a specific program, or we don't wanna prematurely disqualify someone. And then being able to engage the students at scale. Again, I keep mentioning the word scale because what a lot of folks lose on is exactly that. So you have an individual coordinator, or someone who's sending Drip campaigns, what we've found is that students, adult and graduate students are about as pragmatic as they go.

0:15:40.8 OC: So being able to communicate that with them at the individual level, based on his or her individual barriers, or motivators, or the things that they value, where they actually are in their life as an individual, being able to articulate that to them at that individual student-centric way is really kind of the future, and so that's exactly what EAB tries do, is we apply data science to both the targeting, and top, middle, and bottom part of the funnel, then we also use what we call intent marketing, which gives us the ability to kinda go one-to-one in a student-centric way with each individual student to facilitate an individualized campaign, that is based on where he or she is. And so what that allows us to do is combat that exact issue, which is that lack of scale.

0:16:29.0 BB: Yeah, and one thing that's unique about just internal for us, because my operations primarily for the recruitment of students is undergraduate, we actually partnered with our graduate school and hired one, and now we're gonna be hiring a second systems analyst to help manage our Salesforce, our CRM, working individually with graduate programs. We already had the infrastructure in place, and the knowledge in place, we didn't have the bodies. What we found is that if you look at all the graduate programs across our campus, a lot of it's being managed by executive assistants, secretaries. When inquiries come in, there's no centralization of the inquiry. And so we are actually doing that now for the graduate programs, and it's early, but we are seeing an increase this next year in graduate, and we wanna continue to do that, and also the focus on the adult market will continue to be an important part of our mix as we move forward.

0:17:27.8 OC: Boyd, that's helpful. We've talked about undergrad, we've talked about grad, and we've talked about adult, one of the things that I think makes you, and your role really unique is the fact that your title is Chief Enrollment Officer, and so I really wanna talk about, if you don't mind, what is the desire behind creating that unique title, Chief Enrollment Officer, and part two I guess would be we've talked about your approach on educating campus, could you talk a little bit more about those two, and how they are tied to one another?

0:18:00.0 BB: Sure. When you think about the work that we do within enrollment management... And we all have different titles at different institutions. My title as the Associate Vice Chancellor places me in that level, that senior level administrator at IUPUI, that Chief Enrollment Officer gives me the ultimate responsibility of making sure that we're meeting our enrollment goals, whether they're undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, the mix of students, addition of new programs, that we might bring on. I'm inserted in all those conversations across our campus. And I forgot to mention earlier too, is we're nearly 30,000 students, so we have a large number of students on our campus, and that includes our two satellite campuses as well, and so that Chief Enrollment Officer is really key, it assigns that responsibility to me.

0:18:53.9 BB: So I do chair our Strategic Enrollment Management Council, which is made up of deans across campus, as well as senior level administrators, but those enrollment stakeholders that are crucial to our success, but what we do as a division... So when we went back and looked at our strategic plan, which as I mentioned before, goal four of the university strategic plan is to optimize our enrollment management, we created six objectives to help educate the campus about what our role was in supporting enrollment management, and it ultimately aligns with my role as the Chief Enrollment Officer. One objective was to develop continued expertise in strategic enrollment management. So we want the campus to come to us to get the information that is needed. We want to be able to share best practices of what's happening in the country. We don't want the deans or the other enrollment stakeholders taking the time to do that. Let us do that as a vision.

0:19:54.4 OC: And Boyd, how do you share those best practices? Are you sending emails? Are you having... I know we did a EAB plugged in and helped at a kind of a day-long retreat that you all have. What is the forum through which you're sharing these best practices?

0:20:08.0 BB: We have a few different ways that we've done that. One, and this may sound silly Owen, but it's so important is we have to educate our team...

0:20:17.6 OC: True.

0:20:18.7 BB: As well because... And that's where we start. We have these lunch and learns once a month, and we bring topics and we just have an open invitation to the entire division, enrollment management. We have a large team. If you look at every employee that we have, including students that's over 200. And we invite them to learn about different tactics, different trends out there in the country, what we're seeing. But we have different forums where we share best practices. We are also in the process of using Microsoft Teams as a tool to allow articles, we post articles. We do all kinds of things to really encourage the campus to look at things. We have also ways that we more intentionally provide information. We created a strategic enrollment management summit once a year. We've gone virtual because of the pandemic. But we had an in-person summit for two years, and we invited the entire campus to participate. And that was really successful. So that's another creative way of us getting that knowledge out.

0:21:26.2 BB: I think the other objective that's key, and I won't read through all six 'cause that will take a while, and you can find these objectives on our website at, is that service component. We talked about enrollment services, but we really wanna be able to provide excellent service to the rest of the campus. The campus relies on us for about every activity that relates to student success and we wanna make sure that we are there for them, and we really try to ingrain that into our culture of what we're doing, and also have that culture of more of a data-informed decision-making process. It's not just being data-driven, it's really data-informed. And you can be data-driven, you can sit on tons of data as an organization, but if you're not using that data to inform your strategies for decision-making, you can't be successful. And so we have a process that we've set up to actually do that. So those are just a few of the objectives that we put in place, but we have a total of six. I can list them really quick if you think it would be good for the audience.

0:22:34.3 OC: Sure. I've got one quick clarifying question, and then I think it would be helpful for the audience to go through some of the rest of them quickly. You talked about the importance of data, and there's... One thing is having data, but the real thing is how do you actually make actionable decisions based on that data? And we talked about educating the campus, and I would draw that same parallel, which is educating the campus and other stakeholders is one thing, but actually activating those stakeholders to be actively involved in the enrollment management effort is a whole other thing. How do you bridge that gap between educating folks and actually activating those folks to help, be rowing in the same direction as it relates to enrollment management?

0:23:18.1 BB: We're very intentional about that. And I talk a lot about my role, and if I'm sitting at my desk every day and I'm not out and about on campus meeting with deans, meeting with other senior... All of our administrators, our staff, I'm not doing my job. And so I carry that with me. And I think the way we close that gap is, we created an infrastructure within our division of enrollment management that really attacks the enrollment funnel, and from the time that a student is interested to the time that a student enrolls upon being recruited, we created what we call the Office of Strategy and Insights, and we hired a data scientist to help us run that, but we also are lucky and fortunate at IUPUI to also have an office of institutional research that really helps and supports our efforts. And so we tag team together. Although we carry the enrollment torch, we're tag-teaming with the institutional research office on our campus. And so it is a collaborative effort when it comes to data, and we meet the data needs of majority of the campus through our efforts.

0:24:37.2 OC: Yeah, that's helpful. Did you wanna run through the...

0:24:42.9 BB: Yeah, I'll just mention them really quickly. I mentioned the expertise and strategic enrollment management, excellent service and consultation, the culture of data-informed decision-making and the other three are contribute to promoting student success, so it really looks at that life cycle of a student. We also want to cultivate innovation change and entrepreneurial mindset. So the innovative approach in our work is important, is one of our objectives. And then the diversity and the inclusivity principles that impact everything that we do. That's really important and we try to apply that with every strategy, any time we have an idea. One thing I think if there's anything I'd want to leave the audience with, is that when you're looking at strategies, you really have got to have the data first. You really can't set your goals until you have your strategies in place and that's kind of our rule of thumb.

0:25:34.1 OC: Sure.

0:25:35.3 BB: We all wanna gravitate to the strategy and then we really need to use that data first in order to do that.

0:25:44.9 OC: You mentioned data, innovation, the entrepreneurial mindset, to pivot real quick, but on that same note, there's a lot of innovation and data from outside vendors or groups, I mean EAB certainly is innovating and providing technologies and capabilities to help folks think through, tapping into new audiences or finding parents and even leveraging analytics and data science to help in your targeting and recruitment, so there's a lot of data and innovation happening in this industry in general. Could you tell us, I'm curious, what you think here, what technology or new capability that's out there do you think will be the most transformative in enrollment management moving forward? And then conversely, if you had to give your peers some back-to-the-basics advice, what would that be?

0:26:35.7 BB: Great questions, and I think where I would start on that is, you mentioned the word data analytics, and I just mentioned how we created that infrastructure within the division of enrollment management which we did not have, I think technology is tying the analytics to the marketing and the communication efforts, and really studying how students come into the enrollment funnel from the time, either as a prospect, as an inquiry, or as an applicant, they have different needs, and then really truly understanding that... And it really goes back to your analytics. What are you looking at? What system are you using in order to pull the analytics? We think of CRMs as communication tools. They're so much more than communication. And so I think that universities that are investing the time and the resources into the data side, not just with staffing, but with the right tools, creating the right spreadsheets, for example, the things that really make you...

0:27:44.5 BB: The dashboards are becoming key to our work and making sure that you have a dashboard that everyone can understand as easily to pull the data into it. Those are some of the things that we're focused on, but also when I think of technologies, I really think of community, and I really think it's time for us to really, to take a step back and really truly understand how we connect students to students. There's a lot of different technologies out there. Some of us still use Facebook, which is one of our tools, but it's gonna become so much more important as we head forward that we are connecting students to students. And it's not just prospective students to prospective students, prospective students to current students. What platforms are we using? What tools are we using? That's gonna be really, really important as we move forward.

0:28:36.1 OC: That's helpful Boyd. And back to the second part of the question which is really, if you have to give some advice to your peers, back to the basics almost, showing up to work with a hard hat and a lunch pail, what kind of advice would that be?

0:28:49.4 BB: When I gave the presentation at AACRAO SEM in Miami, I had a slide that talked about lessons learned. And we've learned a lot as we worked through this process, particularly at IUPUI, and the challenges that we faced in decentralized environment. And I came up with this list, and I think this would be a good time to share this, you have to be able to meet the unique needs of your campus. Everything's not in a box. And so one school might have a different need than another school. And so being flexible and being able to do that, and if you can't do that, that is something that can be a detour to success. I think data inconsistencies is a basic. I talk a lot about when I started, I'd go around campus, talk about enrollment goals. If you would add every school, what their enrollment goal was, it was impossible.

0:29:43.4 BB: And so, setting realistic goals is really a key as well, and you think about basic and goal setting, you've gotta have a process in order to do that, that is consistent, that is campus-wide, you can't be doing that in silos, even in a decentralized environment. You also have to set aside time to plan. Enrollment management is institutional planning. If you have a division of enrollment management on your campus and all you're doing is operational type work, you're selling yourself short. You really have got to sit down, take time to plan, get your team around the table and plan with them. And I think if there's anything, it is that time to do that. And I always make a joke about this with my team, but those meetings that are so non-productive, really to identify the space, the meeting space that you really need to be at, and be okay to say, "No I can't do that right now, we are really focused on this," and this is what is gonna be more important to have a larger return in the end. And so those are types of things I think... As you think about enrollment management and the planning, you have to give yourself time to really do it.

0:30:52.0 OC: That's a fantastic recap, Boyd. I learn something from you every time we talk, and I know we're reaching the end of our time here together. I'm sure we could talk probably all day about all things enrollment management, decentralized environment, and probably baseball if we had extra time, but greatly appreciate you taking the time to join us on EAB's Office Hours Podcast, and it's always good to talk to you, Boyd.

0:31:13.1 BB: Why thank you, it's a great pleasure to be with you today, and just remember, St. Louis Cardinals, World Series champs 2022.

0:31:23.1 OC: You heard it here first. Thanks, Boyd.

0:31:23.8 BB: Yeah.

0:31:24.3 OC: See you, man.


0:31:31.9 Speaker 1: Thank you for listening. Be sure to join us again next week when we explore the effects of the pandemic on student persistence and success. Until then, thank you for your time.


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