UM's Engstrom details steps to address 'enrollment challenge'

2013-10-04T21:00:00Z 2014-10-19T08:07:26Z UM's Engstrom details steps to address 'enrollment challenge'

Before this week’s University Council meeting came to a close, University of Montana President Royce Engstrom detailed the steps the school is taking to tackle enrollment.

Competition for students is at an all-time high, he said, and schools both in and out of state are vying for a smaller pool of high school graduates.

“We’re in a challenging enrollment environment,” Engstrom said. “We’ve implemented five steps to address our enrollment challenge.”

First among them, Engstrom said, the school is now making strategic investments in recruiting new students. The university has contracted with an outside firm to identify a greater pool of potential students and contact them in measured ways.

Engstrom told a roomful of faculty and staff members that the efforts are paying off. The nonresident inquiry pool is now 70 percent higher than it was at this point last year.

“The top of the funnel, if you will, is getting bigger for us,” he said. “We’ve found that we’ve invested quite a bit lower per student recruited than is typical of public institutions, and that has translated into fewer contacts with prospective students.”

Engstrom said the university also is addressing financial aid. He said the school has reviewed its tuition waivers and will work to be more precise when offering them.

The UM Foundation also has launched an inaugural Investing in Student Success campaign to invest in scholarships, Engstrom said.

“They’ve kicked off a major fundraising effort around scholarship,” he said. “We’ll work to be more precise with our tuition waivers as well.”

Shane Giese, president and CEO of the UM Foundation, said the university currently raises around $5 million a year for scholarships. He said the foundation looks to increase that over three years to $25 million, marking a 60 percent increase in scholarship offerings.

He said the scholarships are broken down to merit-based, need-based, offerings for prepared students and graduate fellowships.

“Graduate fellowships are particularly important as we emphasize new efforts in our research,” Giese said. “Supporting the research that’s done and the professor leading that research is important.”

Engstrom said the university also has ramped up its general marketing efforts – things like running more television ads during football games, placing billboards across the state and running strategic newspaper advertisements promoting high-profile university events.

To a chuckle among the audience, Engstrom said the university also has driven up its Facebook “likes” from 15,000 to 70,000.

It is, he said, a sign of the times.

“Getting the attention of prospective students has become so much more competitive,” he said.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at

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(10) Comments

  1. agray
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    agray - November 15, 2013 9:17 pm
    Another reason I the University of Montana is not getting the attendance it needs is the lack of concern for student rights. I was banned this fall from class for exposing a faculty instructor having a relationship with a student, female instructor and male student. Keep in mind I was still a student and couldn't take the class online. There was a lab that needed hands on work to be completed and I couldn't participate.

    The Dean of Students banned me from an education and a former accused rapist was allowed to attend class during the trial phase. The University of Montana is not concerned about my rights, I'm a model student, made the deans list, and got my Associates degree. Now, I have to leave the state to further my educational goals and was ignored by the board of regents in this abuse of power.

    You can find me on at the University of Montana directory...
  2. Leadfoot
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    Leadfoot - October 06, 2013 12:00 pm
    I agree with all of you, but where were you when Engstrom was blaming our football coach for not hanging some of the football players? There was a cover-up from the top, not from the bottom. Hire all of the high priced PR firms that you want, but I would never allow my daughters to attend UM. They were valedictorians and were offered peanuts from UM. Instead, they went to Carroll with full tuition coverage, where academic achievement is appreciated & rewarded. Change the Rape University perception by enforcement, change UM top administrative leadership, change the academic goals to achievement rather than how many students ATTEND UM and you'll see an improvement in enrollment, immediately.
  3. Nikki's Niece
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    Nikki's Niece - October 05, 2013 11:11 am
    This article is a waste of space. There is nothing new here, but rather the repeat of old claims and policies. Mr. Kidston believes that Missoulian readers do not have any memory. Didn’t he report in March and April that UM had invested $1 million into the Office of Enrollment Services in an effort to improve recruitment efforts and increase enrollment numbers? In this day and age of declining enrollments and revenue, they threw money at a dysfunctional office and it produced three more students than the previous year. One million dollars for three more students! Now Engstrom is once again throwing money at an outside firm to help us all “THRIVE.” Meanwhile in another article in today’s paper, Kidston reports that the UM administration will make permanent cuts to academic programs, which translated into English means cutting courses and faculty positions. Engstrom pays outside firms while he destroys the UM curriculum. He still doesn’t get it: what attracts students to a university is not a new logo, a new brand, or Facebook “likes,” but rather a solid curriculum and top-notch faculty. Time for a new direction.
  4. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - October 05, 2013 10:05 am
    Yep - but at UM, a guy like Running can push a falsified hypothesis of human-caused greenhouse warming and be rewarded for it, just like Michael Mann, who falsified the climate record with his infamous "hockey stick" graph that failed to show the actual climate record - it left out the well-documented Medieval Warm Period. The alleged rapes have little to do with UM's enrollment deficit.
  5. Don't Care
    Report Abuse
    Don't Care - October 05, 2013 7:58 am
    um maybe if there weren't so many rapes.......
  6. Been There
    Report Abuse
    Been There - October 05, 2013 6:45 am
    The recent sexual assault problems on and off campus for UM students is like the elephant in the room. If I had a daughter, I would prefer she attend a university that has policies in place to help assure she would be safe on campus and in the city of Missoula. Recent publicity certainly hasn't helped in the recruitment process. I am a UM graduate. I would encourage her to look at other colleges.
  7. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - October 04, 2013 11:36 pm
    Maybe you would like to lower the cost of an education. That might be the biggest factor of all.
  8. Cato
    Report Abuse
    Cato - October 04, 2013 10:56 pm
    Royce Engstrom is the "enrollment challenge."

    At a key point in time, he chose to attempt to satisfy the politically correct standards that he thinks would gain him "popularity."

    Instead, he refused, and has repeatedly refused, to stand up for the University of Montana, and for the students of the University of Montana.

    Montana parents and students voted "with their feet" against Royce Engstrom.

    The Board of Regents needs to note: an election has been held.

    What are you going to do about it?
  9. johnny Dollar
    Report Abuse
    johnny Dollar - October 04, 2013 10:39 pm
    This is pathetic and desperate........students are not stupid, and they do not need to be "Hounded" and "Romanced" into coming to Missoula. The problem is the void in leadership and the weak academia full of tenured progressives.

    We ask......."Why do progressives find refuge in the university?"

    The answer is painfully one else would hire them.

    Steve Running in the private sector? Nope......he would be selling real estate with the other losers.
  10. My Voice
    Report Abuse
    My Voice - October 04, 2013 10:23 pm
    Rather than hiring an outside firm to increase student enrollment, I wish that some bright UM business students could have been hired to complete this same task. Also, I legitimately wonder if this same outside firm has had a hand in increasing UM's Facebook "likes" from 15K to 70K. Seems odd, especially since UM's reputation has suffered in the past couple years.
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