Quiet chatter filled the Plaster Student Union on Wednesday, Jan. 29, as Missouri State University faculty and students assembled to witness the reveal of the advancement of the university’s Strategic Enrollment Plan.

Proposed in August of last year, the SEM plan is a way the university is combating a decrease in student enrollment. The SEM town hall meeting was called by President Clif Smart to reveal the newly crafted goals of the plan.

Smart opened the meeting, saying that the university was halfway through creating the SEM plan. Smart called it the “most important initiative underway at the university.”

Rob Hornberger, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Services, took to the podium to discuss what the SEM plan means for the fall 2020 semester. 

The goals already implemented for the 2020 semester are waiving the undergraduate application fee students pay when applying and joining the Common App program for easier application from students.  Hornberger said creating an application station for visiting students and establishing a strong online presence for the university are next in line.

Horberger then unveiled the university’s plans on retaining enrolled students. These included new academic advising and assistance centers, grants for adult students and students close to graduation, help for first generation students and support to incoming diverse freshman.

Tamera Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, then gave the seven main goals of the SEM plan over the next five years.

First, by 2026 MSU will increase its overall enrollment by 5% and increase first time in college student enrollment by 3%.

Second, by 2026 MSU will increase first to second year undergraduate retention by 5%, as well as improve retention during “critical transition points” across graduate and undergraduate studies.

Third, increase the number of African American, Latino/Latinx, first generation and Pell Grant eligible students enrolled by 3% and increase persistence rate by 5%.

Fourth, increase equity and support for “underrepresented, underserved and under resourced” students, faculty and staff across the college.

Fifth, by 2026 increase degrees and certificates awarded to 5,800 people per year.

Sixth, decrease average undergraduate student loans by 5% after inflation.

Seventh, raising the university’s profile and combining all previous goals.

The SEM planning process is divided into four different councils, each one tackling a different set of goals for the overall plan. These include the Recruitment Council, Retention and Recruitment Council, Academic Programs and Delivery Council and the Marketing and Communication Council. The respective heads of the councils also spoke on their assigned goals and how they plan on implementing them into the larger SEM plan.

The full strategies, responsibilities and heads of these councils are available on the MSU website under the documentation tab of the Strategic Enrollment Management portion. The next update on the SEM plan’s progress will come at the Board of Govenor’s meeting on Feb. 21.