With a little help from your friends
Last spring, Dr. Perry Rettig, Piedmont’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, had just wrapped up a Board presentation when a Trustee pulled him aside.
During his two-hour team talk, Rettig, who has a gift for breaking down difficult concepts into simple, easy-to-understand terms, had discussed the complexities of higher education admission and financial aid. He talked numbers — discount and graduation rates, net tuition revenue, and student retention – and how those benchmark numbers illustrate the strength of an institution.
“You know, Perry,” the Trustee said. “you should write a book about enrollment management.”
At first brush, Rettig, who joined Piedmont in 2013, dismissed the notion.
But later he realized there would be a market for such a work. Colleges and universities routinely onboard trustees and volunteers. But few of them understand the challenges of higher education. Why is enrollment declining? How are demographic changes impacting student recruitment? Why do some small private, rural colleges close while others (like Piedmont) thrive?
Rettig had authored six highly acclaimed books that focused on education leadership, governance, decision-making, and policy analysis. A book about higher education enrollment management and student affairs would be a departure from his past works, but certainly not a stretch.
Since transitioning to his current role (Rettig served as Piedmont’s Vice President of Academic Affairs from 2013 to 2018), he has been immersed in both issues and had also served as a leader in college’s strategic planning efforts with consulting firm partners Credo-Higher Education and Ruffalo Noel-Levitz.
During a time when many small private colleges were struggling, Piedmont has recently put in place several strategies and initiatives that have advanced the institution in student retention, recruiting, and enrollment.
“After some consideration, I came to the conclusion that we have a really good story at Piedmont, and it needed to be told,” said Rettig. “And I wanted to do that.”
And who better to help tell the story, he mused, than the people who made it.
Rettig reached out to 13 colleagues – some past, most present – and asked them to contribute essays to the book, the working title of which is Enrollment Management: Practitioners Describe Student Success. They all agreed.
The authors include: Lisa Danielson (Registrar at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh), David McMillion (former Director of Financial Aid at Piedmont and current Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of North Georgia), Jody Anderson (Director of Institutional Research), Cindy Peterson (Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Enrollment Management), Kathleen Carter (Associate Vice President for Graduate Enrollment Management), Emily Pettit (Associate Vice President for Student Success and Engagement), Cat Wiles (Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs), Dr. Kim Crawford (Dean of Student Life and Leadership), Jim Peeples (Director of Athletics), Dr. Julia Schmitz (Professor of Biology and Coordinator of the Quality Enhancement Program), Dr. Melissa Tingle (Professor of Mass Communication and QEP Fellow) PJ Woolston, (Vice President for Enrollment Management and Admissions at the University of Texas Permian Basin and Associate Consultant for Ruffalo Noel-Levitz) and Jenni Walsh (former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Campus Compact at the University of Wisconsin-Extension), and Dr. Petra Roter (former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh).
Rettig said the contributed chapters will include success stories, challenges, and advice. It will include segments on financial aid, admissions, student success, student life, data management, and enrollment planning. Rettig will author the introduction chapter and introduce each successive chapter, and two essays himself.
“These contributors are held accountable every day, they know the literature, they have practical experience, they are wise, and they know what they’re doing,” he said. “Each will provide a lay of the land for their area and explain the unique endeavors they developed and implemented. They will also share their successes, lessons learned and what they would do differently.”
The work should be available next summer.