Stagnant enrollment problem continues

New buildings are popping up every year in efforts to enlarge the campus, but enrollment numbers have not increased at the same rate.

That’s why the administration is developing a new recruitment system using new technology and restructuring recruitment tactics.

The number of students enrolled at Florida A&M University during the current school year was the lowest since 2002, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

“We realize enrollment has declined,” said the new Vice President of Enrollment Management Danielle Kennedy-Lamar. “We are looking at where we are to move forward and turn this trend around.”

But it’s too soon to predict enrollment numbers for the 2006-2007 school year, Vice President of Student Affairs Vincent June said, because the period of admissions doesn’t end until May 31, and the university can choose to extend this deadline.

So far, 3,268 first-time-in-college students have applied for admission – compared to 3,316 at this time last year, June said.

Many factors led to this school year’s enrollment dip, but one factor was the limit on recruitment efforts during Interim President Castell V. Bryant’s spring 2005 freeze on spending.

Bryant limited recruitment to allow new administration leaders to revamp and reevaluate recruitment efforts, June said.

The administration recently hired Kennedy-Lamar and merged the offices of recruitment and admissions to increase efficiency.

The university is also hiring new admissions staff, Admissions and Recruitment Director Barbara Cox said.

Ultimately, Bryant’s new leadership team is focusing on improving management of admissions, enrollment and recruitment; this, they said, begins with technology.

In the past, students could not apply for admission online and employees had to manually input applications. This changed four weeks ago, June said.

New technology for recruitment includes new interactive CD-ROMs, making the university Web site more user-friendly, and creating a database to track recruited students.

In the past, June said, the management of recruitment efforts was not efficient.

The university was “just sending people to recruit” without knowing the target audience and how many students they recruited, he said.

Cox said the administration generally recruits along with the recruitment of academic colleges and the international education department.

Now, the university is recruiting by regions and organizing efforts by the type of students recruited (i.e. athletes, scholars, etc.).

This organization will help determine who to involve: faculty, presidential ambassadors or the royal court, June said.

Although new plans are in the works, June said old methods such as recruitment fairs and the use of the FAMU Connection are not discontinued, but they will be better managed.

Improved communication with alumni to increase out-of-state enrollment is also a goal.

“A lot of people want to help FAMU. We have to better help them assist us,” June said, adding that they will implement many of the plans by the summer and, by the fall, “everything should be laid out.”

Stephanie Evans, next school year’s Miss FAMU, will be involved with the new recruitment efforts.

Although the university is working on new technology, Evans believes students can get more insight about FAMU by talking to current students. “I didn’t look at FAMU’s Web site,” as a factor in attending the university, she said.

The call center, which allows interested high school students to talk to school representatives one-on-one, can be an important tool, she said.

The university should show all sides FAMU, she said, because students are usually looking for the school’s “crunkness” or school sprit, and parents are looking at the academic side.

A lot of factors affect enrollment numbers.

The image of the university in the media is a problem that has influenced enrollment, she said.

But Evans said one tactic to increase enrollment should happen in house.

She said if students were happier with the university, more students would want to attend.

“One problem is how FAMU takes care of its students,” said Evans, who believes a number of students are upset about how the school is run.

“Bad news travels fast; if students go home and say FAMU is not treating them right, no one will want to come here,” she said.

Contact Ebonie Ledbetter at