Initial Enrollment Goals Met Says UM Vice President Dr. Tom Crady
Dr. Tom Crady was hired in 2016 to help bring the University of Montana out of its enrollment tailspin, and in his first full semester as the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs, he has met with some success.
Fall semester enrollment was down overall by 4.5 percent, with a total student population of 11.856, however, freshman enrollment saw an increase, which was exactly what Dr. Crady was hoping for.
“The goal this year really was to stabilize the first-year enrollment and see if we could increase it by three percent, which would have been a freshman class of about 1,300 students,” said Dr. Crady. “We came within eight of that, so I’m actually feeling very good. We anticipated a slight overall drop because of the large graduating class this spring. We’re trying to focus on one class at a time to stabilize and eventually increase the enrollment, so next year the goals will be higher but we’re not ready to set them yet until I have some more analysis.”
Crady said one program he set in place immediately was actually directed to high school students, to get them to literally buy into future attendance at UM.
"We are now involved with a program called ‘Raise Me’. It allows students in the ninth grade to sign up on the ‘Raise Me’ site and be awarded micro scholarships," he said. "Students receive small amounts of money for good grades placed into an account that can only be spent here at UM. So far, as of earlier this year, we've had over 16,000 students sign up, and we noted we had a higher number of in-state students which we believe is directly related to the 'Raise Me' program"
Crady said there are also strategies in place to attract more international students.
"We'll soon be hiring an international recruiter," he said. 'This year, because we're already in recruiting season, I'm working with faculty who are traveling overseas to do recruiting for us. In addition, we recruit at international high schools within the United States, and that's really an area that could very much increase our enrollment. We just haven't really taken advantage of it before, so I'm thrilled with that area."
Crady said his long-term plan is to slowly but surely build the enrollment back to where it was, but that will take time, and more personnel.
"In the place I was before, we had 2,100 students and I had 17 recruiters on my staff, while here at UM, I only have four," he said. "The more that we recruit both in state and particularly out of state, the more recruiters you need. Plus, with a new president coming in, there'll be a bigger emphasis placed on enrollment."
According to the Montana State University website, ‘MSU’s fall headcount is 16,703, a total that’s 2 percent above last fall’s count and one that marks 10 years of continuous enrollment growth for the campus, which has set enrollment records in 13 out of the last 15 years.’