LU Curators approve recruiting software

For a $179,100 one-time purchase, plus a $33,000 a-year annual renewal fee, Lincoln University Curators agreed Wednesday to buy a new software program aimed at improving student recruiting.

“We just moved Lincoln University into the 21st century, when it comes to the official admissions and enrollment process,” Interim Provost Jerome Offord explained Wednesday morning, after curators approved the contract during a telephone conference call.

Offord said the contract with the Ellucian Company LP will let LU use the “Recruiter” software for “as long as we want to use the license.”

He added: “We feel that” using an online applications process “is going to help us recruit more students and reach more students.”

He said, based on the experience of other schools that have made a similar change, LU officials feel enrollment should increase by 10 percent in the first year and 15 percent in the second year.

Offord told curators: “Currently, the process is with paper (and) we still have to print the application and manually enter it into our data system.”

With more than 2,000 applications submitted last year, he said, that’s a lot of staff time spent retyping information that the prospective students could create, themselves, if an online application were available.

Curator Cindy Blosser, Jefferson City, added: “I think the key is being able to have personal contact — and if you’re spending hours entering stuff, you don’t have the time to interact” with future students and their families.

And, Curator Winston Rutledge, Jefferson City, noted before the vote: “We’re dealing with a generation that doesn’t deal with paper — they’re dealing with technology.”

Offord told the board that new LU President Kevin Rome supported the proposal, after working with a similar product at North Carolina Central University, Durham, where Rome was vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management from 2008 until coming to LU this summer.

Rome was traveling Wednesday and, although he had planned to be part of the conference call, was not able to join it.

Offord told the News Tribune the proposal wasn’t something Rome tossed into the mix only after starting his LU work June 1.

“We went through this for a whole year,” Offord said. “We reviewed the product and we’ve been talking about this through the interim period. ...

“This is not something we just thought of, last week (but) this has been identified as one of the first steps to address our enrollment process.”

Offord told curators that Rome said at a recent meeting, “Once we go paperless, we will go 100 percent paperless.”

But, is that a good idea — especially since a number of LU’s students are the first members of their families to go to college, and might not have their own computers for filling out the application forms online?

“When we go to recruiting fairs, the admissions staff has computers there to help students to apply online,” Offord told a reporter. “We encourage students to use the public library to access computers — as they do for financial aid.

“And most high schools that have students who don’t have computers at home help those students with the processes to apply.”

Offord said the software will be safe and secure — students and prospective students shouldn’t worry about online security issues.

Of the $179,100 one-time charge, curators were told $86,400 is for the software and user licenses, while $92,700 is for the implementation of the new program — which won’t be ready for use for about six months.

“Part of that is because, most of the time is going to be spent in ‘discovery meetings’ with the staff,” Offord said, “to figure out exactly what we want, because this is highly customizable to Lincoln.”

The goal is to have the program running in time for the bulk of applications students will submit for the 2014-15 school year, he said.

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