search articles: 

   from the issue of February 16, 2006

  Calling program forges contacts between faculty, future students

Faculty Impact


Immersed in the scarlet and crème décor of the Admissions office, five English faculty members and two students listened - some nervous, others ready to herald the department - as they prepared to reach out to potential underclassmen Sunday afternoon.

CALLING PLAN - Debbie Minter, associate professor of English, and David Albright, a senior in Arts and Sciences from Alliance, talk...
 CALLING PLAN - Debbie Minter, associate professor of English, and David Albright, a senior in Arts and Sciences from Alliance, talk to high school students in the Admissions calling center on Feb. 11. English department volunteers - including five faculty and two students - contacted 49 high school students who are considering UNL and have specific interests in the English program. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

"You wouldn't believe how blown away kids and parents are by this type of effort," said Alan Cerveny, dean of admissions, in a pre-call pep talk. "It means a lot to them to have an institution of this size calling them at home. Each of you will leave a marked impression."

Since November, Admissions has offered an open invitation to colleges, schools and departments to aid campus-recruiting efforts. Through this initiative, univesity officials have pushed for faculty to get more involved.

Admissions offers the use of a specialized call center to contact potential students via telephone, allowing faculty to answer questions and discuss the merits of individual programs.

"Phone calling has been an important part of undergraduate student recruitment for some time," said Cerveny, adding that UNL has offered student tele-counseling for years. "But, we've had some colleges and departments that have started calling students in recent years. What we are trying to do is make that effort more organized campus-wide, allowing departments to take advantage of our calling center."

David Burge, associate director of Admissions, said 12 academic units (including three departments with the English effort) have taken advantage of the opportunity.

While snow fell outside in the afternoon chill of Feb. 11, the seven English representatives extended their expertise to 49 high school students - mainly seniors - who have expressed an interest in studying English at UNL.

Contacts were typical with many callers gathering one-on-one discussions with students or parents, others leaving messages and some penciling in callbacks.

"This is the first time we've ever tried this type of student recruitment effort," said Susan Belasco, an English professor who organized the calling effort. "It is a good place for us to start."

The calling session stemmed from a fall meeting between representatives of Admissions and the College of Arts and Sciences. Belasco said that meeting featured options to enhance recruitment efforts, including faculty calls.

Belasco was familiar with similar efforts at private schools, however she knew it would be new territory for a "state school." She reported the information back to a curriculum committee (of which she chairs) and it was decided that English would give the calls a try.

"I don't believe we will be able to tell if this is successful by one time out," Belasco said, calling it a pilot program. "But, it works to our advantage to do whatever we can - even if that means taking time away from personal activities - to recruit good students."

English faculty who participated in the calls were Belasco, Grace Bauer, Janet Haskins, Debbie Minter and Joy Ritchie. Belasco also recruited seniors Nathan and Sarah Albright as callers.

"That is something Admissions suggested," Belasco said. "Having undergraduates speak about their experience is something that remains effective."

Cerveny said the average high school student entered into the Admissions database as a junior will receive a minimum of 65 different contacts from UNL representatives. While he believes that number is impressive, adding one more from faculty who will have direct interactions with a student, could be the factor that tips a college choice to UNL's favor.

"Our philosophy in Admissions is to make each and every student feel special, to feel like the University of Nebraska wants them," Cerveny said. "There are a number of ways we can do that. But nothing is going to rival getting a call from a professor in the area of study they are interested in."

For more information on the faculty-calling program, contact Admissions at 472-2023.



Faculty Impact
Project explores health issues from Nebraska to China
Tiffany lights Gallery
Binek seeks to put new face on physics education
Finding 'Hope for a Global Ethic'