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 meansadopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, andHelix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percentbrand 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 fromHelix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking togrow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growthtechniques 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 EricOlson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Ryan Bebe, assistant professor of biology at Calvin College. Ryan, thanks so muchfor joining us today. Happy to be here. Ryan's best friend from highschool was my best friend and my roommate in college, and Ryan and Ifirst met at this shared friends Bachelor Party, where I quickly learned about Ryan's biologycareer pursuits and after which I spent the entire night asking Ryan about fivehours of biological and evolutionary questions. He's been one of my absolute favorite mindsever since and I'm really excited to get his unique perspective today on faculties rolein 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 listenersa little bit better understanding of both Calvin College and your role? They'resure Calvin is a Christian Liberal Arts College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wehave a little under four thousand undergraduate students and I'm in my sixth year asa faculty member in the Biology Department.

I teach primarily courses in anatomy andphysiology, and my primary area of research is actually the evolution and paleontology ofmarine 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 biologyneuroscience concentration. Awesome, Ryan. The reason I wanted to talk toyou about this topic was that on social media I see you constantly sharing thecool stuff that not only your students in your department are doing, but justsharing 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'dhave. 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 Istarted, but you're right, I generally thought about doing research, I thoughtabout teaching, I thought about advising current students, also about service to thecollege in terms of serving and committees and...

...various things. But when I thoughtabout 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 wereinterested in my department or my program and I could meet with them to answerquestions that they had, and I also figured I'd participate in some of ourvisitor programming. We have a regularly scheduled program called Fridays at Calvin, whereprospective students and their families come for the day and we always have lunches thatare hosted by faculty members and also by current students. So I figured thatI would probably participate in a couple of those per year as well. Butit was probably during my first or maybe my second year as a faculty memberwhen 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 toCalvin or were interested in Calvin and we're on the fence, and they wouldask us to reach out to the students either by calling them or by sendingthem an email, and they were even...

...sometimes these calling parties where a bunchof faculty and students would get together for a few hours some evening and tryand reached out to as many students as they possibly could, and that thattype 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 bysending out emails to them and trying to keep them in the loop as wefigure out if they're still considering calvin or not. And so I'm empathetic toen Romans desire for you to participate that level because, because faculty interactions duringthe enrollment process are often cited, is the deciding moment when a student canpicture themselves they're working shoulder to shoulder with with junior department with the next fewyears. And so as a professor, I imagine you also have a vestedinterest in recruiting a stronger class curious, ambitious, high achieving students. Isthat, along a strong enough incentive to put in that extra work? Forme, I guess that, in particular is not a major factor, mainlybecause even when I meet with students that I'm reaching out to students, alot of times, even if they come...

...to Calvin, I'll never see themin the classroom or in the lab, and for most students the first timeI ever meet them is in the classroom. So you know, there's probably beena handful of students over the years that I've met as perspective, studentswho I later got to know really well, but generally speaking that's not a majorfactor for me, just given the likelihood of me ever seeing them inclass. So I know that your rule provides you with a lot of justnatural brand building recruiting activities. Speaking at conferences, you're doing research within amuseums, you're giving talks to the general public. Is it more the salesnature of recruiting that you think not all faculty or comfortable with, or isit simply the fact that recruitment activities are are perceived distraction from what they believetheir primary role to be? Yeah, I really think that sales aspect iskind of what makes me a little bit nervous, mainly because it's not somethingI know much about doing. Well, when I think about why I becamea faculty member, it is my love of teaching and my love of researchand and that's what got me in into...

...doing this. And I also understandthat. You know, for perspective students that in the interaction with faculty asa really key experience for helping them decide where they're going to go. Andin 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 aswell and you know, there are a lot of those things that drew meback as a faculty member. But I often wonder if, sometimes when I'mmeeting with these students in their families that I wondering if I'm saying the wrongthing or if I'm doing or saying something that might turn them off, becauseI'm comfortable teaching and doing research and sharing about that and I'm not really comfortableas as a salesman. But at the same time I understand why we're askedto do some of these things. Thinking about institutions like Calvin, where weneed a fairly steady enrollment to bring in the tuition revenue, which is akey part of our budget. But I also don't just want to bring instudents to fill the seats. It's really important for me when I meet withperspective students that I'm helping them figure out...

...if this place is the best placefor them, and I often will tell them when we're done meeting. Youknow, regardless of whether they end up at Calvin or not, I hopethat they get a sense of clarity and a sense of peace about where I'llbe continuing their education. and I wonder if that makes me a pretty badsalesman if I'm saying that they might feel happy or somewhere else. I don'tknow. I think it makes you an amazing salesman and and I'm sure yourenrollment team would agree. While they do have, obviously, you know,revenue goals based on student goals, they also want students that will persist becauseit's the right fit for them. So now I think. I think yourapproach is actually closer to a traditional sales the Roman approach. That then youmay 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 Ido 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 anice presentation at a conference or publish really interesting paper, I see those thingsas promoting the type of institution that Calvin is, to show how serious weare about but our scholarship, about our teaching, about our faith in agrationas well, and I'm really happy to do that, especially when it's inthe context of things that I'm passionate about, things that I'm already doing. Iam moderately active on social media and I do like sharing stories about whatmy students are doing, what my colleagues are doing, other initiatives that Calvin, as an institution is involved with. In so yeah, I guess Iwould see general marketing of Calvin and promotion of the amazing place that I dobelieve that it is as part of my job and it's something that I'm generallypretty happy doing, especially when it's in line with the things that I'm passionateabout, things that I'm already involved in. Right, really good stuff, reallygood stuff. Ryan, to final questions for you, and I'd loveto hear your advice for for both faculty...

...and administrators here. First, anyadvice 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 thisreally is a part of our job, and I especially think that it's importantwhen prospective students have questions about your program about your majors, about your fieldand 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 anyonetedadmissions does, and so it's important for us to be able to share thatinformation with prospective students in order to help them figure out if your program andyour college is a good fit for them and for their career goals. Yoube thinking about administrators. I certainly think they should be asking faculty to participatein some of these things and leveraging those things at the pet the faculty you'repassionate about knowledgeable about, but I also think that it might be, youappropriate to think about limiting the types of...

...things that you've asked them to beinvolved and especially if it's a type of activity that somebody on staff might beable 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. JetReally good stuff, Ryan, you're the best. Well, what's the bestplace 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 tovery easily find my academic website or my profile on Calvin's website, and youcan 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 uniqueperspective it's given a lot of us a lot to think about. Thanks againstso much for joining us to day. Ryan, no problem. AERICA,you've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that younever miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcastplayer. Thank you so much for listening.

Until next time,.

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