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Feb. 5, 2016

by President Tisa Mason

We’re now engaged in a Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP) process to better align ourselves with the higher education environment in which we operate and to identify high-impact strategies to achieve our enrollment goals. In the simpler words I like to use, we’re looking to find our “sweet spot” and figure out how to get and stay there.

We’ve begun the SEP process at VCSU by bringing together more than 50 faculty, staff, and administrators to plan for a stronger VCSU.

Margaret Dahlberg, vice president for academic affairs, is leading the effort, assisted by 12 other members of a steering committee, including the chairs of 5 subcommittees looking at academic programs, student success/services, finances/financial aid, infrastructure, and marketing/recruitment, along with representatives providing data and communication support. (The complete roster of VCSU’s SEP participants can be found online at

These committees are developing overviews of VCSU’s current situation in their respective areas, using data to support their analyses. In addition, key performance indicators (KPI) are being identified to provide benchmarks against which SEP progress will be measured.

The situation analyses will lead to the development of prioritized strategies, followed by action plans defining tactics to achieve the desired results, and then, of course, implementation.

The SEP process is continuous—once the plan is defined, tactics are then implemented, monitored, and evaluated in relation to the KPI. Depending on results, the plans are modified as needed.

A subcomponent of SEP taking place at VCSU is the development of an Enrollment and Revenue Management System (ERMS).

Chaired by Charlene Stenson, director of enrollment services, a six-person committee is looking at our financial aid awards. (The roster of VCSU’s ERMS participants can be found online at

By examining historical data regarding student enrollment and financial aid packages, including grants and scholarships, we aim to do a better job of matching financial aid packages to students’ price sensitivity, ensuring that each student receives the ideal amount of aid to enroll, persist, and graduate.

Both of these processes, SEP and ERMS, began in December 2015; the implementation phase of SEP will commence in September 2016.

That’s a huge investment of time and energy in planning for the future of Valley City State, but we’re trusting that our efforts will return dividends in helping secure both long-term enrollment and fiscal health for the university.