Executive Committee Minutes - December 8, 2004




Present:          Alexander, Beck, Bolin, Bradford, Fech, Hoffman, Peterson, Shea, Stock


Absent:           Scholz, Signal, Wunder


Date:               Wednesday, December 8, 2004


Location:        Academic Senate Office, 420 University Terrace


Note:   These are not verbatim minutes.  They are a summary of the discussions at the Executive Committee meeting as corrected by those participating.


1.0       Call to Order

            Peterson called the meeting to order at 3:02 p.m.


2.0       Dean Cerveny, Admissions

Peterson welcomed Dean Cerveny and stated that the Senate held an open forum discussion on recruiting students at the October 5th Senate meeting.  Dean Cerveny acknowledged that enrollment for new freshmen students was down 11% this year.  He stated that four straight years of tuition increases may be the reason for this decrease.  He noted that the perception for many people of Nebraska is that the university is too expensive for them to attend. 


Dean Cerveny stated that the Admissions Office created a brochure called Big Red Truths to help dispel the numerous myths about attending UNL.  He noted that he has been meeting with high school counselors in the state to dispel these myths.  He stated that the first concern is the affordability of attending UNL.  He stated that many high school counselors were not aware that Nebraska students are guaranteed total grant assistance equal to, or greater than, the full cost of tuition provided they complete the Federal Student Aid application by April 1 each year and are found to be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant.  He noted that more work needs to be done by the Admissions office to provide parents and high school counselors with accurate information about UNL. 


Dean Cerveny stated that the quality of students attending UNL for the first year is better than it ever has been.  He stated that the average ACT and SAT scores have been higher than any previous year. 


Dean Cerveny stated that UNL needs to work on recruiting more out-of-state students.  He noted that UNL does not have reliable markets in other states for students.  He noted that many students come from South Dakota and Iowa but there is not a steady number year in and year out to rely on. 


Dean Cerveny stated that the campus is beginning to host more high school guidance counselors from out of state for an on campus visit.  He reported that counselors from the Chicago suburbs, Minneapolis suburbs, and Kansas City suburbs have been invited to campus.  He stated that once the guidance counselors see what UNL has to offer they become excited about the campus and suggest it to their students.  As a result UNL is starting to see an increase in the number of applications from students from these areas.  He pointed out that developing the out-of-state recruiting program is still in its infancy stage but progress is being made.


Dean Cerveny stated that although it is still early in the recruiting process, there is a 30% increase in the number of applications for next year and this is significantly ahead of last year’s figures.  He noted that the busy time for recruiting is coming up after the holidays. 


Dean Cerveny reported that Admissions has developed brochures specifically for students in other states and new publications are available with great photographs of the campus. 


Dean Cerveny noted that direct mail comes mainly from the parents but students are contacting Admissions by email and the internet.  He stated that the TALISMA program has been in use for the past three years and is greatly helping in dealing with communicating with prospective students and targeting their specific interests, both in academics and extra curricular activities.  He reported that all email replies from the Admissions office is very personalized and web forms from UNL include a picture of the Admission advisor so that students have a sense of a personal contact. 


Hoffman stated that Iowa State used to have a social gathering for prospective out-of-state students.  He noted that at this gathering the cost of attending the university was pointed out.  Dean Cerveny stated that in Chicago the Admissions office hosts a student reception.  At the reception there are representatives from housing and financial aid who can answer questions. 


Shea asked if Admissions feels it has a good handle on the cost issue.  Dean Cerveny stated that the problem seems to be addressed for those students with ACT scores of 25 or above.  He noted that there is still a problem of recruiting students in the 21 – 24 ACT range.  He stated that those students are still being lost to community colleges but Admissions is trying to address this problem.  He pointed out that one of the Big Red Truths is that students from community colleges are three times less likely to get a four-year degree than those students who begin their college careers at a four year university.


Bradford noted that some other local universities have advertisements that are thinly disguised attacks on UNL.  He asked how the Admissions office is handling these advertisements.  Dean Cerveny stated that one of the first ways to counteract these advertisements is to dispel the myth that UNL is too big.  He noted that parents and students coming to the Van Brunt Visitor’s Center come to realize that UNL is not as big as they originally thought.  He stated that he gets frustrated at times with these negative advertisements but he pointed out that most flagship campuses usually receive this kind of advertisement.  He pointed out that a local college had an advertisement in the Daily Nebraskan which negatively attacked UNL.  He noted that this is considered to be unprofessional conduct in the field of admissions and report of such an incident could ban that college from participating in college fairs and the national association.  He stated that one of the challenges of the Admissions staff is to dispel the myths created by other universities. 


Alexander suggested that the Admissions office should consider gender of the student before they send out specific brochures.  He noted that his step-daughter, who is very interested in volleyball, was sent one of the specific brochures but instead of having a picture of the volleyball team on the cover, there was a picture of the football team.  He pointed out that many women would relate better to something other than football.  He stated that Admissions should also explain to people why the university needs to grow and increase enrollment, especially with out-of-state students.  Dean Cerveny pointed out that the demographics of Nebraska indicate that the number of high school students in Nebraska will be declining and maintaining a student population at least equal to the number of students today will be difficult.  He noted that having students from different states increases the diversity of the student population and creates a more dynamic environment. 


Alexander stated that in a few years the Hispanic population in Nebraska and Kansas will be 30%.  He asked what Admissions is doing to recruit Hispanic students.  Dean Cerveny stated that figures already indicate an increase in the number of Hispanic and African American students applying to the University.  He stated that in order to recruit these students successfully it is important to develop contacts, such as youth and church groups, within the community. 


Fech noted that the TALISMA program does not interface with the program IANR has on potential students from FFA and 4H-groups.  Shea pointed out that over 100,000 names are on the IANR list but the software is not compatible between the two programs.  Dean Cerveny stated that he is aware of the problem and that his office is working with the software company that sells TALISMA in order to correct it.  Beck stated that the program needs to be able to sort the students according to age groups.  Fech noted that Professor Steven Niemeyer, Associate Extension Educator, sends a personal email message to prospective students from the FFA and 4H-groups that he has worked with. 


Peterson stated that the Dean of CASNR and the Dean of Extension Education have both reported getting feedback from people in other parts of the state claiming that UNL has not done much to recruit high school students.  One of the comments is that there is not a good response when calls are made to the campus.  Dean Cerveny reported that in past years there used to be an Admissions Recruiter who used to travel the state visiting high schools.  He noted that now there are Admissions Counselors who try to work individually with prospective students.  He pointed out that these Counselors will try to get the answers for prospective students and will do the legwork necessary to get that information.  He stated that the Admissions office now has the resources it needs to allow them to be more responsive to students.  He noted that UNL’s Admissions office is considered one of the best in terms of responsiveness.


Shea suggested that faculty members be given a simple list of instructions on how to respond and where to direct prospective students if the faculty member receives a phone call from them.  Hoffman suggested that Admissions could place the instructions on a magnet that could be adhered to a file cabinet by their desk.  Bradford suggested that it would be helpful for faculty members to have a list of basic facts about the university.  Dean Cerveny stated that these are all good ideas.


Fech stated that it is great that the Admissions office is working on targeting specific areas of interest for prospective students but he noted that more work needs to be done in customizing this targeting for individual students.  Dean Cerveny pointed out that the TALISMA system has only been in place for three years and they are looking at ways that the program can be more focused. 


Fech noted that those students coming in with high academic achievements often get scholarships which help them pay for the higher tuition rates but not many scholarships are available for other students.  Dean Cerveny stated that the university needs to work at improving need based scholarships. 


Fech asked if students get to visit East Campus as well as City Campus.  Dean Cerveny stated that if the student is interested, they will be given a tour of East Campus.  He noted that guidance counselors who come to campus get a tour of both campuses. 


Dean Cerveny stated that in the past the enrollment of students from Omaha was down but this year there are more freshman enrolled at UNL from Omaha than there are Lincoln students.  He noted that Admissions has been conducting a Big Red Road Show in Omaha for the past couple of years and the efforts seem to be paying off.


Bradford asked if Admissions does customized recruiting where they focus on targeting specific colleges or programs.  Dean Cerveny stated that Admissions has tried to focus on particular colleges.  He noted that the College of Journalism and Mass Communications is a potential college for this kind of recruiting because students from across the country are interested in attending a Journalism college somewhere in the Midwest. 


Bradford noted that the U.S. World News report on colleges confuses people when it classifies Creighton University as a liberal arts university.  He pointed out that Creighton does not compete with UNL because they are not classified in the same way in the report. 


Shea asked what faculty members could do to help with recruiting.  Dean Cerveny stated that during the key recruiting times of the year it would be really helpful if faculty members could call or email prospective students.  He noted that contact from a professor makes the greatest impact on a student.  He stated that Admissions will be able to get targeted information on the student for the faculty member and will even assist in writing the letter for the professor.  He pointed out that departments could have specific contacts for students.  He stated that he would be very willing to meet with department chairs or faculty members to discuss prospective students.


Beck suggested that Admissions should broaden the number of students touring East Campus.  She pointed out that East Campus offers disciplines and courses in the life sciences and business just to name a few.  She noted that just focusing on what students say they might be interested in may not be the best strategy, particularly since some college students change majors multiple times after enrolling and that Admissions should be careful not to assume that students know as high school juniors or seniors what their major will ultimately be.  She suggested that Admissions should play up the positive side of East Camupus.  Fech noted that if a student is intimidated by the size of City Campus they might feel more comfortable on East Campus and not just dismiss it as agriculture or list specific departments.  Beck noted that students react to campuses on a number of different levels, including emotionally, and that something might click with East Campus that doesn’t with city campus on a visceral level and that it would be better to risk losing a few students to CASNR than to Minnesota for example.  Peterson pointed out that there are many international courses and studies going on as well on East Campus.  Beck stated that touring East Campus might change opinions that East Campus is just about agriculture.  Dean Cerveny stated that one of the obstacles Admissions is working on is changing the perception that UNL is located in a rural setting. 


Hoffman suggested that there needs to be better coordination of the campus tour guides.  He noted that the tour guides showing the Engineering buildings should be familiar or a student of the college.  Dean Cerveny noted that the guides are trained but sometimes someone else fills in for a guide. 


Hoffman stated that something else Admissions should work on is providing transfer students with scholarships.  Dean Cerveny admitted that this is still an issue that he would like to improve.  He pointed out that there are a lot of department scholarships awarded to new students but they are not given out until May or June so they are not considered recruiting scholarships.  He suggested departments should try to make the scholarships available earlier if possible.  Hoffman stated that the Chemical Engineering department had a program which awarded students $100.  He noted that this was a very successful program. 


Alexander stated that departments are not aware of the scholarships that students may have and they could award a scholarship to a student who already has their tuition covered by scholarships.  He noted that it would be helpful for departments to know how much money students are receiving so they could possibly spread the scholarship money to other students in the department.  Dean Cerveny stated that he has discussed this with Dean Kean.  He noted that she is very interested in coordinating scholarship information. 


Shea asked about the marketing program and whether the West Coast has been looked at as a potential market.  Dean Cerveny stated that there has been some interest from California and his staff has checked it out.  He noted that for students in California, weather seems to be a big issue.  Shea suggested that the positive aspects of the lifestyle in Lincoln should be promoted when recruiting in California, particularly the lower cost of living and the decrease in traffic.  Dean Cerveny stated that alumni in California are assisting with recruiting.  He noted that there are plans to do more recruiting in states like New Jersey.  Hoffman suggested that Admissions promote the economic incentive to coming to Lincoln. 


Peterson noted that Admissions is doing a great job and making great efforts.  He stated that the discussion was very informative.  Dean Cerveny stated that anyone should feel free to contact him if they have any thoughts or suggestions on recruiting.  He noted that updated figures on enrollment will be available sometime in the spring.  He pointed out that the enrollment deposit will allow the Admissions office to have figures on recruiting in the spring. 


3.0       Announcements

            3.1       Programs of Excellence

Peterson reported that the Academic Planning Committee is beginning work on reviewing applications for the Programs of Excellence. 


4.0       Approval of 12/1/04 Minutes

Beck suggested making some minor revisions to comments she made regarding searches.  Stock moved and Beck seconded approval of the minutes as amended.  Motion approved.


5.0       Forum on Core Values

Peterson, Hoffman, and Alexander attended the open forum.  Alexander stated that he thought the discussion was reasonable but he was disappointed that there were very few Deans and Chairs in attendance.  He noted that there were a lot of individual faculty members and there was a good exchange of ideas between key people. 


Peterson stated that there seemed to be a lot of non-academic people in attendance.  He thought that the planning process is for the academic component of the university.  He noted that a recurring comment made was about inclusiveness and caring.  He noted comments were made about establishing mentoring programs and advising.  Alexander stated that one of the core values missing is about the humane and caring environment of the university. 


Hoffman stated that he is still having difficulty with the core values.  He pointed out that they are so broad.  Beck noted that the core values need to be vague in order for all department and units to fit into the plan. 


Stock stated that he was interested in the Chancellor’s comments at the Senate meeting regarding learning centers.  He noted that the English department’s perception is in getting students more involved in courses.  Peterson stated that the values seem to be a commitment to outcomes. 


Hoffman noted that the Chancellor’s comments about space issues makes him wonder whether programs that fit into the core values and strategic plan will have better access to getting more space.  Alexander pointed out that some classroom designs restrict enrollment and that this needs to be addressed.  The Committee agreed to discuss the space issue with the Chancellor next week. 


6.0       University Curriculum Committee

Peterson reported that he received an email message from a Curriculum Committee member who stated that the Committee was changing their responsibilities and membership status.  Griffin pointed out that the Curriculum Committee is listed as an Academic Senate Committee and changes to the responsibilities and membership of the Committee cannot be changed unless approved by the Senate.  Peterson stated that he will contact the chair of the Curriculum Committee to notify him of this and to see what changes the Committee is proposing.


7.0       Follow-up on Senate Meeting

The Committee briefly discussed the Senate meeting and the issues discussed.


8.0       Unfinished Business

            No unfinished business was discussed.


9.0       New Business

            9.1       Student Fees

Peterson reported that a faculty member recently appointed to the committee to review student lab fees contacted him with concerns that some colleges might be abusing these fees.  Shea stated that colleges should have to account whether the fees are being used for their stated purposes.  Bradford stated that he did not see the fees as a bad thing because it allows the colleges to charge a differential tuition rate which can help improve programs within the college.  Shea noted that some of these fees may restrict students from taking certain courses because they cannot afford the additional fees.  Bradford pointed out that the university has a lock step on tuition rates but there are no lock steps on costs.  The Committee agreed to put the item on the agenda when they meet with the administration. 


9.2       Video Conferencing at January Senate Meeting

Peterson stated that a faculty member at Rutgers University has agreed to participate in a videoconference on collective bargaining.  Peterson stated that work on arranging the videoconference will continue. 


9.3       Academic Dishonesty

The Committee discussed the comments made by Dr. Hecker at the Senate meeting regarding the increase in academic dishonesty.  The Committee agreed to invite Dr. Hecker to a meeting to discuss the issue further.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:07 p.m.  The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be on Wednesday, December 15 at 3:00 pm.  The meeting will be held in 201 Canfield Administration Building.  The minutes are respectfully submitted by Karen Griffin, Coordinator and Pat Shea, Secretary.