Institutional Support: It Has to Be More Than Just One Office

July 21, 2017 Amy Harriman
Institutional Support: It Has to Be More Than Just One Office

The Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program from USC: Rossier School of Education was one of the most powerful programs that someone working at a school could participate in. Although it was mainly focused on the enrollment management department, the key message that came through to me was that this work cannot be done without the whole school’s support.

One of the best things about being a part of one of these programs is the opportunity to learn from others -- not just to get ideas, but to sometimes just to realize that you are not alone, and that the opportunities for improvement you have at your school are not very different than those of others.

As I began to write this post, I began scrolling through all of the lessons that we worked on over the course of a month. The one that I feel matters more than any of them is the need for schools to garner institutional support. As I kept that idea in my brain, every other lesson I looked at came back to that. You cannot move forward if you don’t have the whole school involved in and supportive of your mission.

I think the most important strategy in garnering institutional support is to get out of our offices and connect with others. As a department we do that as often as we can, but sometimes that means that it has to take place outside of the regular work day, which can be very difficult to manage with our own personal and family lives. It's so important to garner institutional support by building relationships with faculty members in more casual settings. As a boarding school with a large portion of our faculty living on campus, we can sometimes accomplish this in a very casual setting at my school.  I am fortunate that my husband teaches at my school andthat we live on campus. I have been working at my school for thirteen years, so at this point the majority of my friends are also teachers.  This means I get the chance to know my colleagues in a casual setting, so when the time comes that I need support for an admission-related issue, I usually call on them first.

During this lesson, our moderator commented that she purposefully never has meetings in her own hall, which forces her to get out to other areas.  She also blocks out extra time for those meetings, so that she can pop in and say hello to other teachers and administrators in that area.

Another great way to get other departments to understand their key roles in the enrollment process is to involve yourself in the areas that are important to them. Volunteer to time a swim meet, or help clean up after a school dance or play. Everyone needs help and if you give it, people will be more willing to give back.

I also believe that it is important for new faculty to meet with each department as part of their orientation. I can imagine how quickly that would “break the bubble” and also help people become more comfortable with everyone sooner.  We just had two new faculty members join us last week,  and they have not really been instroduced to the other faculty and staff members. I imagine they would feel a little more welcomed if there was some form of an introduction so that they could get to know everyone.

It was a pleasure being a part of the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program.  For anyone looking through these blogs who hasn’t signed up yet, make the time for it. It will be worth it!

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