77: 1-Stop Student Experience Management at St. Catherine University w/ Drew Melendres

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Drew Melendres, Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and Athletics at St. Catherine University, joined the podcast to talk about the benefits of centralized leadership over the entire student experience.

To know that we have that impact of an entire student life cycle, essentially from cradle to grade, here within the institution is really exciting for us. 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, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'm Ericleson AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with drew mallendress, senior vice president of enrollment management and Student Affairs and athletics at St Catherine University. Drew, welcome to the show. Pleasure to be here. Really excited to talk with you today about the benefits of centralized leadership over the entire ...

...student experience. Before we dig into that, drew, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both St Catharine's and your role? They're sure St Catherine University founded in the early eighteen hundreds as an all women's College here in St Paul, Minnesota. Enrollment today is right around forty eight hundred total students, of spread out across three different colleges, our traditional college for women, which is still single gendered, the college for adults, which is our online and adult programs, which focuses really on degree completion and we offer some associates as well as bachelor's degrees. And then, and that college is a one one five hundred. And then we also have around another fifteen hundred in our graduate programs, which is also coat as well from an institutional perspective. Very urban setting, also very competitive market where we have more than eight private institutions within a five mile radio US as well. Yeah, and then...

...for me, my background a minute SA Kate. Since July of last year I can officially say I'm no longer new. However, I can still say still like I'm getting my feet under me. Prior to this it was the vice president for partner strategy at collegious education, but for years with that organization and we saw tremendous amounts of growth, helping institutions think holistically about enrollments, enrollment from a programs, marketing, admissions and technology perspective. Work traveled to more than eighty five campuses and we had more than the thirty partners joined the business in my four years there. Prior to that had a very similar role to what I'm doing now here at St Kate's at Metropolitan State University across town and St Paul. Metropolitan State is around Twelvezero adult learners, pure early adult. They got fifty two first time freshmen on campus and it's all non residential spread out across four different campuses. Thoroughly enjoyed my time there and got in...

Dr needed to non traditional learning. Then the part of that, had a six year stint with Texas Tech University down in Lubbock Texas in the admissions office. So really kind of came up through the admissions and recruitment background and then prior to that had a sales and marketing career with with Dal in Austin, Texas. So varied background. Super throned. Excited to be back on at a mission based institution where we get to see the whites of students eyes every day and they remind us why we do the great work that we do. Awesome. I appreciate the introduction drew, and I think it probably is that very background and specifically that holistic thinking that got think it's so excited about you and it's what we're talking about today. In the past decade we've seen a move toward the alignment of marketing and enrollment offices, often under the vice presidents of enrollment management, to create unified strategy, shared KPIS. But talk about the benefits of that position also having student affairs and athletics reporting through them as...

...well. Yeah, so our little I'll start with marketing and then go over to the student affairs of athletics piece. It very much all has to work collaborately and cohesively. I'm so currently today are are we ever senior vice president for advance in spent, and then we also have our senior and Myce, Amiral, and then we have a VP of marketing position which is underneath us that we work very collaborly together. Sat katsas relatively gone dark from a marketing perspective for a few years, so we're recreating our brain and we have a phenomenal vice president of marketing who is doing a great job getting US rebranded and out there in the market. But her and I work very closely on programmatic marketing across the three schools and then from the other side of it, with Student Affairs and athletics all coming down together. The one of one of my favorite things I tell our team about is that we essentially control that student experience from the first time that they hear about us out there in the market place...

...all the way till they walk across the stage at commencement. And to know that we have that impact of an entire student life cycle, essentially from cradle to grave here within the institution is really exciting for us. Then and then we are ready immediately seeing areas. We're connecting the DOTS, making smoother handoffs from one area of the institution to another, just because now we're all together in one place and just as a definitional level set. I know when someone uses the phrase programmatic marketing specific and Higher Ed, there can be a confusion of which of two things we're talking about. Your specifically referencing academic program marketing, not the automation of display AD buying. Correct. That's correct. Yeah, we, most institutions today still focus very much on brand marketing. Of We're going to market St Catherine University as a whole and with our logo and things like that. Programmatic Marketing, and that's where marketing communications has a very strong emphasis and focus. My interest is more so focus on programmatic marketing of...

...individual academic programs, by saying we know students today really search for their next academic career choice based on that program. So they go to the Nish Omnipotent Google and say I'm searching for I want to be a doctor when I grow up, and what does the all powerful Google serve them up? That's what we're trying to do on the enrollment side is get our marketing in front of them from that perspective. Love it. Just wanted to clarifacause I know we have a lot of marketers who listen to the program so drew from before the point of first inquiry through the entire enrollment process and into student success in athletics. Why is it so important for the student experience and why is it so valuable for the student for that structure to be unified and centralized? What students today just have high expectations. I had a Deana students that looked at me one time, and not here at St Kate's but in my previous role, actually just and said you know, we really can't be all things to all...

...people. And they said, well, from a student services perspective, your students have that expectation now and sometimes that can be a challenge. And what they really are looking for are, you know, minimizing those tradeoffs or, if there's that tradeoff, that those handoffscuse me, from one person to another, or if those handoffs are there, the student doesn't feel like they have to start all over. I can't tell you how many times I've heard it. You know, campuses say, Oh, we call that the, you know, university named Shuffle, as they get shuffled from one office to another, which can be a course of very frustrating experience, and when students say they have so many choices and they vote with their feet. Our job is to create a customer service level that people will say, wow, they understand me, they are listening to me and even though I talked to somebody in the admissions office this week and then somebody in student events the next week, that they can still feel like we're trying to pick up the conversation where we left off with the last person. And what that does is it really creates a higher level of engagement with the student who says, I came here because...

...you had the program of study that I was looking for. I stayed because you seem to really care about me and you really want to see me be successful. Love it drew many of us, and many of our listeners are are familiar with this concept of an enrollment one stop shop, making sure that our own internal silos and high red don't fragment or confused a student when moving through the enrollment process. But what you have, it's in Catharine's, can really be coined as as a onestop student experience management? Yes, a hundred percent. I think there's a real life issue word dealing with right now. Of Our athletics group brought us they would really like to do athletic stules at graduation, signifying that they're they were an athlete here at our institution. We think that's a great idea, however, and maybe if these systems were not connected, athletics would move forward, make that distinction, order their stulls and show up at graduation with them. One of the things that they maybe are not as aware of is that we're having a similar conversation with all our multicultural groups, with all of our student events and student organizations that they have been...

...asking for similar things and if we didn't connect these conversations, what we might end up with is one group move forward without the rest of the institution. The rest of the institution does not feel as included or as a part of the conversation. And you know, when we look at the facilities that are athletes get relative to other students, you could see almost like this disassociated or disaggregated student experience. And so what I'm trying to do is keep every to the extent possible, keep all these voices to the table and keeping US thinking broadly about how does the overall student experience get affected? And our students here, because we have a social justice mission, talk about marginalization quite a bit. US bringing all the student experience together really does help us minimize them. Are Marginalization across campus. Now, not to say it doesn't happen, but it is something that we're trying to minimize where ever stumently possible. It's an incredibly interesting model. Drew any next steps advice for other institutions looking to move...

...closer to this one? Stole up a student experience management model or some potential hurdles they'll have to overcome. Well, I think the first to look at your student demographic and understand this is the right model for you. Many campuses today, obviously we see increased diversification, we see more and that's not just ethnically but SOC economically and also from a perspective of what they believe, what they think about. We see it increased our why focus of is it worth it for me to come? And then from many of us that are facing demographic declines in graduating high school populations. You know, there's this perfect storm of wow, how hard you have to work to normally get a student, to keep the student here, and one of the things I think about is do you have the right team and levels of services in place? Right now we are having these active conversations and a tremendous amount of educating because our student body has diversified, you know, by more than twenty percent over the past...

...ten years. We serve a very different student today than we did a decade ago and I think we are blessed that the average ten year of my directors are ten plus years. But they also are being asked now to think about things in a different way of serving themselves. So I would say step one us to look at your team and take inventory of where you have strong experience. Be Thinking about where you need either augment or retrain or retool that experience to where you think the institution is going. That would probably be step one. Step two is get all your voices to the table. Be Thinking about how do you create more with what you have. I've told our team this is not about doing more with less, it's about doing more with what we have today. So where can we learn from best practices of what we've seen other institutions do? How can we implement things that we think are the right fit for us? Then the number three is measure, measure and analyze everything. To steal the demming quote in God we trust, all others. Must Bring Data. Our team has gotten very used to hearing that from me in...

...terms of we don't make decisions because, anecdotally we think it's right or because we heard a story or we listen to the end sample of one. We must bring multi years worth of data and also look at what we expect to happen for that and doing that exercise over and over and over again. And then finally, probably the most importantly, is just being open to change, creating a culture where people understand that things are changing and that's okay. It doesn't mean we're stepping on anyone's toes of a great work that came before us. It just means that to be here another century requires that we continue to adapt to the changing and rapidly shifting world around us, and that is worth moving through. All four of those things right now here on our campus. But we already see a whole new energy that's here and that's an exciting thing to be a part of, and people are site from the work. Drew. That's great to hear so much great stuff you've done us to think about.

Thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Yeah, the easiest place to find me you can go to the Saint STK dot EU. You go the leadership page, you can find me on the website, which has access to many email address there, or you just find me on Linkedin. Just drew milingos at Linkedin and you'll find me there as well. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. Drew. My pleasure 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 Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To...

...ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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