Administration works to rebuild enrollment

With enrollment at Florida A&M University down to 11,715 in Sept. 6 from 12,125 students at this time last year, campus administration is planning to stop the downward trend that began in 2004.

Danielle Kennedy-Lamar, associate vice president for student affairs, manages enrollment at FAMU.

“The primary reason for the decrease, in my opinion, was the university’s strong but necessary stance on students with prior debt,” she said.

During the last Board of Trustees meeting, Interim President Castell V. Bryant reported that approximately 1,000 students were unable to register for classes because they were unable to pay the debts they had from previous enrollment. 

“Had a significant number of these students been able to register for class, enrollment numbers would look very different,” Kennedy-Lamar said.

Kennedy-Lamar has supervisory responsibility for admissions and recruitment, university registrar and new student orientation. She also works with the academic affairs division to monitor enrollment, establish enrollment targets and goals, review policies and develop marketing strategies and materials for the university.

Enrollment Management is currently planning a strategy that will focus on “right-sizing” the University. 

Right-sizing, Kennedy-Lamar said, refers to analyzing the total university enrollment at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level by colleges, programs and majors, graduation rates, retention rates, faculty size, staff size, facilities, infrastructure and budgets. 

Based on the analysis, the university will determine the “right” enrollment for FAMU. 

In terms of new student enrollment, there are many new initiatives being devolved such as the new recruitment materials and brochures EM has created.

They are also developing a new interactive CD-Rom, hiring new recruitment coordinators, defining recruitment territories, training alumni recruiters, increasing student roles in the recruitment effort, retooling admissions processing and holding special recruitment events.

“New initiatives generally require additional funding,” Kennedy-Lamar said. “However, we are making the resources we have work for us.”

EM has reviewed staffing in all its units, and several adjustments in staffing have already occurred. Adjustments include a complete review of staff position descriptions, desk audits, roles, functions and goals of the area. 

“These efforts will allow us to provide better services to current and prospective students,” Kennedy-Lamar said.

EM is not the only office at FAMU concerned with the recent drop in enrollment. Lydia A. McKinley-Floyd, dean of the School of Business and Industry, has a plan to improve enrollment in SBI.

“Decreased enrollment results in fewer funding dollars and fewer well-trained employees in the workforce. SBI is on an aggressive recruitment strategy,” McKinley-Floyd said.

“We are going to our top feeder schools in Florida and around the country to promote our school and make scholarships available to the top students,” McKinley-Floyd continued. “We are also utilizing our outstanding network of alumni to help us do this, thus moderating the cost.”

McKinley-Floyd said that in fall 2007, she would ideally like to see SBI’s enrollment increase about 25 percent and have around 1,400-1,500 students.

“Although our university has been surrounded by some controversy, I don’t think that has much to do with the enrollment decrease,” said Amanda Byrd, 21, a senior pharmacy student from Atlanta.

Byrd, the senior class vice president, said she feels as though recruitment efforts in previous years have been strong. But recent recruitment efforts have been lacking, she said. “I haven’t really seen the same effort being put into recruiting like I’ve seen before.”

Byrd said she is aware of the efforts EM is currently making, saying she hopes a change in enrollment will soon come.

Kennedy-Lamar summed it up by saying, “It is quite simple; students are the reason that the university exists.”

Enrollment is the driving force for every component of the university. If students do not enroll, we have no mission, purpose or reason for existing.”