UM Communications Director Discusses Enrollment Issues
Neither the University of Montana nor Montana State University have released any incoming fall enrollment figures, much to the consternation of statewide news media, who are hungry for information about the sensitive topic.
It was the reduction in enrollment on the Missoula campus over the last several years that led to budget cutbacks and layoffs that has divided the campus, and led to the hiring of an enrollment specialist, Dr. Thomas Crady, who has been paid a $70,000 hiring bonus to make up for the salary that he could have made at another university.
Communications Director for the President's Office, Paula Short, said that Crady has only been on campus for a short time.
"Dr. Crady and I are both new to the cabinet, but Tom brings an amazing skill set, coming in with experience in enrollment at a couple of universities," Short said. "He has been tasked with enrollment issues and how they work at the University of Montana, how we can target students for enrollment. He's looking at every aspect of how a student goes from their initial expression of interest at the University of Montana, to becoming an enrolled student. It's a multi-year, multi-faceted process. People don't realize how these high school students are looking earlier and earlier at where they'll be going to school and they're asking questions in their sophomore and junior year."
Short said there is also an intense competition from schools throughout the region for those high school seniors in Montana.
"If you zoom out to the 50,000 foot view, you realize how lucky we are to have such a great selection of higher education institutions to choose from," she said. "We feel the University of Montana offers a world-class experience, with our academic innovation, our student experience and our campus community makes a wonderful package to offer to students."
Short said the decision not to release pre-enrollment numbers for the fall semester has come from the top.
"System wide, the Montana University System has given guidance to all the campuses on how the enrollment count is managed," she continued. "Basically, it is after the 15th instructional day of the fall semester, and once that happens, there's an opportunity to gather the data that is deemed the most highly reliable . There are a number of things that can happen prior to the 15th day that can affect enrollment, so after the 15th instructional day it'll take a few days to compile that data, and it will be available to everyone as soon as we have it."
Short said the schools want to make sure the enrollment numbers released are the most accurate and reliable available.
"Here at the University of Montana," she concluded," we will certainly share that number."