Kris Anderson has returned to UW-River Falls to take over a brand new position as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Student Success.
Anderson started her career at UWRF and went on to work at other schools in the UW System. She has spent the past 12 years at UW-Eau Claire as the Admissions Director and Executive Director of Enrollment.
“When this position opened up I wasn’t necessarily looking to leave Eau Claire, but I have always had a soft spot for River Falls, my first job, but I was ready to do something different, make a change and give back to the place that made me a professional,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s goal is to recruit students, as well as retain them. “This is a new position. In a nutshell it’s recruiting students, retaining students, and graduating students.”
According to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Wisconsin’s high school graduating rate peaked at about 71,000 in 2008-09, and is projected to be smaller in all subsequent projected years. It projects that high school graduates will decline about 10 percent through 2015-16, to about 64,100, and stay around this level through 2020-21.
Due to this drop in the amount of graduating high school seniors, UWRF is facing a decline in enrollment.
“In a tough economy, students might go to work, go to a two year college and live at home for a while and then transfer. There is just a lot going on that impacts some of that up and down enrollment,” Anderson said.
Director of Admissions Mark Meydam is also concerned with the decreasing number of students and what the University has to do to recruit and retain students at UWRF after high school.
“There are less high school students graduating, and there are just as many colleges competing for those fewer number of students and are spending a lot more dollars on getting those students to enroll,” Meydam said.
It is Anderson’s goal to recruit and retain new students in the fastest and best way possible. One of the newer changes that Anderson and other colleagues are working on this year is the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEMP), which combines recruitment, retention, marketing, finances and facilities. Meydam is also working with Anderson on SEMP.
“My goal with the strategic management plan is to present it to campus next spring sometime. Not only will it address new students, but it will look at retention and getting students to complete degrees, and once getting students to enroll here, helping them finish their degrees,” Meydam said.
Anderson is focused on certain things including engaging students and connecting them to resources to help them be successful, making sure they find campus a good fit and supporting them financially by giving them an education at a reasonable price.
“Some folks just look at the problems, why students leave, but I think we also need to look at why they stay and how we can make that better,” said Anderson.