“If teachers have a positive experience [with our program at EMU], they will share that information with their high school students.”
Zuzana Tomas, assistant professor in the World Languages department, is talking about how her department uses a grant to recruit more graduate students to EMU.
The grant program, called WritEL, is focused on bringing in full-time K-12 teachers to EMU to pursue a graduate degree in TESOL. Through WritEL, 50% of tuition can be waived for teachers getting their Master’s, while 100% can get waived if the teachers decide to do research and work towards a PhD. According to Tomas, this grant has doubled enrollment in the TESOL program.
This is just one of several programs at EMU that get faculty more involved in student recruitment.
At the Faculty Affairs Board of Regents Meeting on Oct. 24, the focus was on how several current faculty programs were doing in regard to impacting student enrollment. Through the success of these programs, it is clear that faculty intervention is needed to bring more students to EMU.
“I was on the board at Albion College for 12 years and even though we were a lot smaller than Eastern, the fact is that there were too many of the faculty that felt that admissions was an 'admissions job' and not theirs,” says Regent Rich Baird.
Through the programs presented at the meeting, faculty who are involved and invested prove to be a powerful tool in bringing more students to EMU. This is especially true with recruiting high school students.
Michael McVey, a professor in Teacher Education, organizes an open house for high school students interested in teaching.
Faculty from the Education department donated their time for the day and hosted a series of mini lessons so that the students could get a taste of what they would be learning at EMU and a glimpse into what the life of a teacher would look like. Some of these lessons included topics like “Designing a Dream School” and “Learning Social Studies Outside of the Textbook.”
This event brought in about 30-40 high schoolers, with almost 100% committing to attend EMU. McVey concludes that even “just bringing students to campus makes a huge difference.”
While it is clear that engaging faculty in bringing in new students can make a positive impact on enrollment numbers, these types of programs need to be further supported by the university to encourage more faculty to participate.
By incentivizing faculty or offering more recognition to them, it is possible that more programs like these will develop.
For Harriet Lindsay of the Department of Chemistry, her program was greatly assisted by administrators who could help her overcome barriers that came with developing the program. In order to bring more students to campus, Lindsay organized a summer science program meant to show high schoolers what college-level research in science looks like by pairing them to work one-on-one with EMU faculty.
Figuring out ways to effectively organize and carry out programs to increase student enrollment will remain a topic that the Regents, as well as faculty, will be thinking about.
According to Regent Dennis Beagen, “This is a conversation we needed to have a long time ago."