18: Faculty’s Role in the Recruitment Process at Calvin College w/ Ryan Bebej

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ryan Bebej, Assistant Professor of Biology at Calvin College, discusses faculty’s role in the enrollment process – what it is, what it could be, and what it definitely shouldn’t be.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back...

...to enrollment growth university. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Ryan Bebe, assistant professor of biology at Calvin College. Ryan, thanks so much for joining us today. Happy to be here. Ryan's best friend from high school was my best friend and my roommate in college, and Ryan and I first met at this shared friends Bachelor Party, where I quickly learned about Ryan's biology career pursuits and after which I spent the entire night asking Ryan about five hours of biological and evolutionary questions. He's been one of my absolute favorite minds ever since and I'm really excited to get his unique perspective today on faculties role in the recruitment process, what it is and perhaps what it should be. But before we get too deep into that, Ryan, can you get the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Calvin College and your role? They're sure Calvin is a Christian Liberal Arts College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have a little under four thousand undergraduate students and I'm in my sixth year as a faculty member in the Biology Department.

I teach primarily courses in anatomy and physiology, and my primary area of research is actually the evolution and paleontology of marine mammals like whales. I also serve as a faculty advisor for our students, including specializing as the pre veterinary advisor, preaptometry advisor and also for our biology neuroscience concentration. Awesome, Ryan. The reason I wanted to talk to you about this topic was that on social media I see you constantly sharing the cool stuff that not only your students in your department are doing, but just sharing Calvin love in general. And when you first thought about being a professor, I imagine you considered the teaching, the advising, the research responsibilities you'd have. How soon did you realize you'd have these recruitment responsibilities as well? Yeah, it happened fairly early and I probably anticipated some of it before I started, but you're right, I generally thought about doing research, I thought about teaching, I thought about advising current students, also about service to the college in terms of serving and committees and...

...various things. But when I thought about recruitment, I probably could just thought of really two things. One, I thought I would probably meet with visiting students and their families if they were interested in my department or my program and I could meet with them to answer questions that they had, and I also figured I'd participate in some of our visitor programming. We have a regularly scheduled program called Fridays at Calvin, where prospective students and their families come for the day and we always have lunches that are hosted by faculty members and also by current students. So I figured that I would probably participate in a couple of those per year as well. But it was probably during my first or maybe my second year as a faculty member when I first saw these call sheets that they would ask faculty to go through. So these would be sheets with information about prospective students who had applied to Calvin or were interested in Calvin and we're on the fence, and they would ask us to reach out to the students either by calling them or by sending them an email, and they were even...

...sometimes these calling parties where a bunch of faculty and students would get together for a few hours some evening and try and reached out to as many students as they possibly could, and that that type of program we haven't really done that in that way now for several years, but I'm still pretty routinely asked to contact students that I've met with by sending out emails to them and trying to keep them in the loop as we figure out if they're still considering calvin or not. And so I'm empathetic to en Romans desire for you to participate that level because, because faculty interactions during the enrollment process are often cited, is the deciding moment when a student can picture themselves they're working shoulder to shoulder with with junior department with the next few years. And so as a professor, I imagine you also have a vested interest in recruiting a stronger class curious, ambitious, high achieving students. Is that, along a strong enough incentive to put in that extra work? For me, I guess that, in particular is not a major factor, mainly because even when I meet with students that I'm reaching out to students, a lot of times, even if they come...

...to Calvin, I'll never see them in the classroom or in the lab, and for most students the first time I ever meet them is in the classroom. So you know, there's probably been a handful of students over the years that I've met as perspective, students who I later got to know really well, but generally speaking that's not a major factor for me, just given the likelihood of me ever seeing them in class. So I know that your rule provides you with a lot of just natural brand building recruiting activities. Speaking at conferences, you're doing research within a museums, you're giving talks to the general public. Is it more the sales nature of recruiting that you think not all faculty or comfortable with, or is it simply the fact that recruitment activities are are perceived distraction from what they believe their primary role to be? Yeah, I really think that sales aspect is kind of what makes me a little bit nervous, mainly because it's not something I know much about doing. Well, when I think about why I became a faculty member, it is my love of teaching and my love of research and and that's what got me in into...

...doing this. And I also understand that. You know, for perspective students that in the interaction with faculty as a really key experience for helping them decide where they're going to go. And in that sense I'm more than happy to share about my experiences, my perspectives, the things I love about being at Calvin. I'm an a lama as well and you know, there are a lot of those things that drew me back as a faculty member. But I often wonder if, sometimes when I'm meeting with these students in their families that I wondering if I'm saying the wrong thing or if I'm doing or saying something that might turn them off, because I'm comfortable teaching and doing research and sharing about that and I'm not really comfortable as as a salesman. But at the same time I understand why we're asked to do some of these things. Thinking about institutions like Calvin, where we need a fairly steady enrollment to bring in the tuition revenue, which is a key part of our budget. But I also don't just want to bring in students to fill the seats. It's really important for me when I meet with perspective students that I'm helping them figure out...

...if this place is the best place for them, and I often will tell them when we're done meeting. You know, regardless of whether they end up at Calvin or not, I hope that they get a sense of clarity and a sense of peace about where I'll be continuing their education. and I wonder if that makes me a pretty bad salesman if I'm saying that they might feel happy or somewhere else. I don't know. I think it makes you an amazing salesman and and I'm sure your enrollment team would agree. While they do have, obviously, you know, revenue goals based on student goals, they also want students that will persist because it's the right fit for them. So now I think. I think your approach is actually closer to a traditional sales the Roman approach. That then you may think, wow, proight. I'd love your opinion on this statement. Marketing and recruitment isn't just marketing job or Romans job. It's everyone's job. Agree or disagree. I guess in some sense I agree with that because I do feel like when I'm engaging in my normal professional activities I'm representing Calvin, so I need to make sure I'm representing...

...our institution well when I give a nice presentation at a conference or publish really interesting paper, I see those things as promoting the type of institution that Calvin is, to show how serious we are about but our scholarship, about our teaching, about our faith in agration as well, and I'm really happy to do that, especially when it's in the context of things that I'm passionate about, things that I'm already doing. I am moderately active on social media and I do like sharing stories about what my students are doing, what my colleagues are doing, other initiatives that Calvin, as an institution is involved with. In so yeah, I guess I would see general marketing of Calvin and promotion of the amazing place that I do believe that it is as part of my job and it's something that I'm generally pretty happy doing, especially when it's in line with the things that I'm passionate about, things that I'm already involved in. Right, really good stuff, really good stuff. Ryan, to final questions for you, and I'd love to hear your advice for for both faculty...

...and administrators here. First, any advice recommendations you have for new faculty being asked to help in the recruitment process? Sure, I think it's important for faculty to know coming in that this really is a part of our job, and I especially think that it's important when prospective students have questions about your program about your majors, about your field and the types of opportunities will have a students in your department, because you, as a factory member, will know far more about those things and anyoneted admissions does, and so it's important for us to be able to share that information with prospective students in order to help them figure out if your program and your college is a good fit for them and for their career goals. You be thinking about administrators. I certainly think they should be asking faculty to participate in some of these things and leveraging those things at the pet the faculty you're passionate about knowledgeable about, but I also think that it might be, you appropriate to think about limiting the types of...

...things that you've asked them to be involved and especially if it's a type of activity that somebody on staff might be able to do just as well. Be At sending emails out to prospective students. We're making phone calls to see if students have made any decision. Jet Really good stuff, Ryan, you're the best. Well, what's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? While my name is a little bit unusual on the way that it's spelled, so if you google me it's Ryan bb Beebech, you should be able to very easily find my academic website or my profile on Calvin's website, and you can feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or thoughts? Awesome, grateful for your time and and grateful for that the very unique perspective it's given a lot of us a lot to think about. Thanks against so much for joining us to day. Ryan, no problem. AERICA, you've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening.

Until next time,.

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