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University of Montana associate vice president for enrollment Michael Heitkamp does not appear to be on the job after just five months in a critical recruitment year for the flagship.

Cathy Cole, vice president for enrollment and strategic communications, said Friday Heitkamp "is an employee of the institution," but she would not address whether he remained at work on campus.

"It's a personnel matter. I can't talk about it," Cole said.

This spring, UM experienced its steepest decline in full-time equivalent undergraduate students and overall full-time students since the enrollment slide began in 2011. Undergraduate FTE decreased 13 percent and total FTE dropped 9.1 percent.

But UM officials stressed that the decline had slowed because the campus retained more students, and Cole said that marker is an indication that the enrollment trend at UM will reverse.

Thursday, Provost Jon Harbor told members of the Faculty Senate that members of the campus community want to know what the fall entering class will look like and how they can help recruit more students.

"This is a time of year when we need all hands on deck," Harbor said. 

At this point in the recruitment cycle, he said UM needs to convince prospective students who have been accepted that UM is the place they want to come in the fall. He said that increase in yield for fall is "a high priority at the moment."

UM has experienced a deep enrollment slide of 32 percent since 2011 and at least a $10 million budget problem as a result. Top leaders have been in flux, including enrollment officials.

Cole stepped into the vice president for enrollment and strategic communications role at UM in summer 2018. Heitkamp came on board in November 2018, according to the Montana Kaimin and his LinkedIn page. A Kaimin story in January noted Heitkamp "oversees UM's recruitment office."

On Friday, a UM switchboard operator could not find Heitkamp's name in the system and transferred the Missoulian to the admissions office. In response to a request to speak with Heitkamp, UM relayed the following information: "Mike Heitkamp no longer works for the University of Montana."

Director of Human Resource Services Terri Phillips said she was in meetings in Helena and not immediately able to provide his contract or compensation.

Heitkamp, listed on the UM website as associate vice president for admissions and financial aid/enrollment but with no contact information, could not be reached Friday through a Facebook message requesting comment.

This school year, at least two other UM employees have been relieved of their duties but have remained on contract through the terms of their agreements. Those individuals are paid employees of the institution, but they are not at work for the university.

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University of Montana, higher education