Lincoln University curators took two steps Friday they hope will help boost the number of students who choose LU for their college studies.
The board approved a one-year contract with Royal Co., to help with student recruitment "while we're in the process of (creating) an RFP (request for proposals)," President Kevin Rome told the board, "so that we can focus on increasing our enrollment."
He later told the News Tribune: "They have the infrastructure that we just don't have - the technical expertise and the enrollment management expertise - and they help you attract students to apply to the campus.
"And then, it's on us to bring the students here."
Curators also modified LU's "Neighboring States Program," reinstated only last April.
It allows LU to charge in-state tuition for some students who come from any of the eight states that border Missouri - Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
"We've found that other institutions in Missouri have created similar programs, and have increased their enrollments by competing against Lincoln University," Jerome Offord Jr., chief of staff to the president, told the board.
"The difference between our program and their programs is, once a student has met their qualifications and been admitted into their institution, they're automatically granted to be a part of Neighboring States.
"But our program, once a student is admitted, still has additional requirements."
Curators okayed dropping the additional requirements, then extended the program to graduate students and gave the president authority to include students "with a special talent or academic ability."
Rome later said, in an interview, "Our main focus will still be in-state. We're looking for residents of Missouri to attend Lincoln. However, in this competitive market, we need some type of advantage."
The board awarded a $485,000 renovation contract to Jefferson City's Harold G. Butzer Inc., to replace the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system in LU's Small Animal Research facility.
"This building was built to provide 100 percent outside air for animals for research," Sheila Gassner, LU's Building and Grounds director, explained, "but we're not using the building that way, at this time."
The new equipment will be installed so that more outside air again can be brought into the building, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the new system "will be more energy efficient" for the labs and offices currently using the space, she said.
The board also okayed a change in the policy for reassigning administrators to faculty appointments.
Under the new policy, faculty members who become administrators - then later return to full-time faculty positions - "will receive a salary based on their previous salary ... plus applicable adjustments," including cost-of-living changes.
"The Employee Compensation and Benefits Committee looked at multiple institutions, and looked at the current policy," before recommending the changes, Committee Chairwoman Connie Hamacher told the board.
Hamacher also served as LU's interim president after former President Carolyn Mahoney retired last year, until Rome began working June 1.
Rachel Williams from the BKD accounting firm told curators the school's financial operations got an "unmodified" report, the best kind of statement an auditor can make.
Rome told a reporter: "The staff's doing an outstanding job - they are being very accountable, and we had no problems. ...
"We still have some financial concerns, but those are manageable - and we're going to manage them."
Rome told curators he's been "very busy and involved, traveling actually throughout the world (as well as) the state and nationally" during his first five months as LU's president.
"I think that we've been well received, everywhere."
Amy Gossett, chair of LU's faculty senate, told the curators that Missouri Higher Education Commissioner David Russell said the same thing, while addressing a recent meeting of the Missouri Association of Faculty Senates, with representatives from all 13 state public higher education campuses.
"He said Dr. Rome has made an incredible and "fantastic' impression on the community already, and that we are looking forward to a great relationship over the next years," Gossett reported. "I thought that was really awesome."