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    Achieving Personal Mastery with SEM

    In idealistic-pragmatist, Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline (1990), one of the five disciplines is personal mastery (the others are systems thinking, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning). Senge writes, “Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs” (p. 139)   So, for our institutions to grow, each of us must find our own path to personal mastery.

    Senge describes personal mastery as “the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively” (Ibid, p. 7).

    Kirsty Wadsley, head of widening participation at the London School of Economics and representative of the UK-based Association of University Administrators, presents a research poster at the 2017 AACRAO SEM Conference
    Kirsty Wadsley, head of widening participation at the London School of Economics and representative of the UK-based Association of University Administrators, presents a research poster at the 2017 AACRAO SEM Conference

    For enrollment managers, one of the ways of achieving personal mastery is through developing professional competencies and proficiencies in Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM).  For those new to SEM, here is one of my favorite definitions:

    Enrollment management is a comprehensive and coordinated process that enables a college [or university] to identify enrollment goals that are allied with its mission, its strategic plan, its environment, and its resources, and to reach those goals through the effective integration of administrative processes, student services, curriculum planning, and market analysis.” (Kerlin, 2008)

    This can be achieved by reading some of the SEM classics and the SEM Quarterly journal, or by continuing the development of personal mastery by engaging with colleagues engaged in their own professional development. 

    Some will choose graduate programs or courses/experiences that culminate in a certification of some type.  But for many of us, it is about coming to the AACRAO Strategic Enrollment Management Conference, which is celebrating this year its 30th conference in Las Vegas on October 25-28, 2020.  Topics typically include: SEM culture, leveraging technology and data, career development, student success, and reaching optimal enrollment.

    An important way to contribute to your own personal mastery in SEM is to actively participate in the conference.  Currently, conference planners are promoting a Call for Proposals, where you can submit proposals for a best practice session, a poster, round-table, or a stop and share discussion on SEM hot topics, SEM research, or innovative ways institutions are implementing SEM. Proposals from multiple institutions or types of institutions are encouraged, as are proposals from Canadian and international institutions.

    If you are thinking of submitting a proposal and want to discuss some ideas, send me an email at Clayton.Smith@uwindsor.ca  (I am the director of the AACRAO SEM Conference!).

    Whether you submit a proposal or not, let me encourage you to join us in Las Vegas this fall to enhance your personal mastery with SEM.

    -Clayton Smith

    Kerlin, C. (2008).  Community college roadmap for the enrollment management journey.  College and University, 83(4,), p. 11.

    Seng. P. M. (1990).  The fifth discipline The art and practice of the learning organization.  New York: Currency, Doubleday.

    Rowing Against the Wind

    For many, the road to writing a master’s thesis is challenging and often filled with minefields. Now, imagine what it is like to write your first major publishable-quality academic paper in a language other than your native language. This will give you a sense as to the pathway Yuehua Zhu encountered on her way to defending her master’s thesis last week.

    Yeuhua took my Research in Education class a year ago and, after learning about the magic of educational research, decided to pursue a master’s thesis. This was not easy for her. She gave it a great deal of thought and, in the end, began her journey. But she was rowing against the wind!

    She used all of the support that was available, including weekly meetings with me and frequent visits to the Leddy Library Writing Support Desk. She also asked for feedback from her student colleagues, which helped a great deal.

    Two of the members of Yuehua’s thesis committee were also of great help to her. Drs. Ma and Zhou provided wonderful advice to her on directions her research might go to achieve her stated purposes.

    Yeuhua Zhu has completed a thesis which fills an important gap in the research literature by showing how student political participation impacts social integration, student sense of belonging, and English proficiency; all of which contribute to Chinese-origin student retention and success at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

    Look for her thesis, “Enhancing Social Integration in Canadian Post-Secondary Educational Institutions for Students of Chinese-Origin through Political Participation.” It is outstanding.

    Yuehua Zhu with her University of Windsor thesis committee members,
    Dr. Clayton Smith, Dr. George Zhou, and Dr. Zhenzhong Ma

    -Clayton Smith

    Providing SEM Leadership in Times of Disruption

    At this week’s Canadian Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) Summit, we discussed SEM leadership in times of disruption.  We focused on how changes in institutional leadership, governments, and technologies affect SEM performance.  In particular, we discussed the impact of disruption on building community and international engagement.

    Sena Miitchell, University Registrar at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, speaks with the Canadian SEM Summit on international engagement
    Zena Mitchell, University Registrar at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, speaks with the Canadian SEM Summit about international student enrolment challenges

    Some of our discussion points included:

    • Who should be around the table when a disruption occurs? Are groups already formed, or is there a need to develop new groups?
    • How do we get the data needed for decision-making? Some may already exist, but new data may also be needed.
    • While disruption can leave us perplexed, we need to find ways to keep our sense of purpose while managing SEM during challenging and distracting times.
    • Disruption can be an opportunity to try something new or to focus the institution more clearly on its educational values and aspirations.
    • The growing challenge of maintaining data privacy and security in turbulent times.
    • The opportunity disruption provides to move from competition to collaboration across the higher education sector.

    For many, we are already in disruptive times in the area of international student enrolment and engagement.  Some talked about the near explosion of international student enrolment in recent years, especially for students from India.  We heard about how this challenge might be a way of bringing together budget and SEM; that sometimes disruption can be internal; that budget drives culture; and opportunities flow from effective brainstorming across institutional silos.  We were reminded of the importance of supporting international students, both personally and academically, as they enrich our institutions.

    Andrew Ness, Dean of International at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning
    Andrew Ness, Dean of International at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, speaks with the Canadian SEM Summit about building connections between budget and institutional culture

    Jason Hunter, Vice President, Student and Community Engagement, at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning put it well when he said the Summit helped us “to frame critical issues” and “to build capacity” by developing a strong SEM network of administrators and educators across Canada.  We all experienced a little SEM therapy.

    For me the key take away is the importance of encouraging collaborative dialogue and planning for disruption as we work to enhance institutional health and student success through our SEM work.

    Feeling renewed!

    Clayton Smith

    Crossing the Border

    Dr. Smith with visiting students and faculty from Western Michigan University's Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership program
    Dr. Smith with visiting students and faculty from Western Michigan University’s Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership program during their study abroad trip to Ontario, 2019.

    This week I, along with Windsor colleagues (Dr. Ken Montgomery, Dean, Faculty of Education; Ryan Flannagan, Associate Vice-President, Student Experience), welcomed graduate students and faculty to the University of Windsor from Western Michigan University’s Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership program during their study abroad trip through Ontario. As a dual citizen (both US and Canadian), it was my pleasure to share a bit about Canadian higher education.

    As Canadians often do, we opened our dialogue on the state of the weather, which was 9 degrees Celsius and with a forecast of light snow mixed with rain.  Keep in mind this was April 10th!  We then talked about geography.  Some were surprised that they had traveled south as they came into Canada and that Windsor is the southern most part of Canada, with a good portion of the US north of us.

    I was, of course, glad to see some adventurous students try poutine in our cafeteria, a made-for-students delicacy composed of fresh-cut french-fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.  They loved it!

    The visiting students and faculty were very interested in the similarities and differences between the educational systems and the challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian and Ontario higher education systems.  This, of course, led to some discussion of the political system in Canada since higher education is mostly funded and controlled by the provinces.

    Our conversation touched on many topics, but two were of particular interest: international education and student mental health.

    On international education, we discussed the growing international student population on Canadian campuses, including the University of Windsor, and the stalled and declining enrolment of international students at many American colleges and universities.

    Mental health for both American and Canadian institutions is a growing concern.  Some were surprised to learn that mental health support at our campus is greater than it is in the community.

    We then took a short tour of our student services, snapped a picture, and wished them well as they travelld to other Ontario colleges and universities.

    My guess is they will head home with a richer understanding of Canadian higher education and a sense of some of the things we can do together in the years to come.

    A pleasure!

    Clayton Smith