Faculty, presidents, staff from Tennessee’s community & technical colleges focus on challenges facing student attendance at Strategic Enrollment Management Conference

Nearly 200 faculty, staff participate in SEM 2022

Teams of presidents, faculty and staff from Tennessee’s community and technical colleges gathered in Nashville Thursday for SEM 2022 – the College System of Tennessee’s Strategic Enrollment Management conference to share information and best practices about student engagement, enrollment and retention efforts across the system.

Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) has been a formal priority initiative of the College System for three years. The newest report on Tennessee’s college-going rates among new high school graduates – issued last month by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and reflecting a downward trend in the rates over the past five years – has given the work even more urgency.

The day-long convening featured keynote addresses by experts from the system’s SEM partners, including:

  • Dr. Dhanfu E. Elston of Complete College America, on “Complete College America 2.0: Who We Left Behind.
  • Dr. Stephen J. Handel of ECMC Foundation, “Beyond Free College.”
  • Dr. Chauncy Lennon of Lumina Foundation, “A National Perspective on Community College Branding and Enrollment Management.”
  • Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab of Edquity and the Hope Center for College Community and Justice, “Supporting Low-Income Students.”

Also presenting were faculty and staff leaders in Strategic Enrollment Management from Cleveland State, Columbia State, Nashville State, Pellissippi State. Roane State, Volunteer State and Walters State Community Colleges; Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Harriman, Hartsville and Oneida; the Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs the College System; Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and UnidosUS, which advocates for high-quality education from early childhood through college, vocational training and beyond.

One breakout session, for example, focused on how Nashville State Community College has partnered with local government, a nonprofit agency and industry to provide wraparound supports to Davidson County students to improve retention and success. Nashville GRAD and Nashville FLEX provide targeted financial assistance and intensive academic supports to students, helping them graduate with the skills they need to get higher-paying jobs in high demand in the local economy.

Also featured was a partnership between Roane State Community College and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Harriman and Oneida designed to help students continue their educations through a seamless transition from the technical college to the community college.

The conference is presented by the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Office of Student Success, led by Vice Chancellor Heidi Leming, with support from the TBR offices of Academic Affairs, and Policy and Strategy. Nearly 200 college faculty and staff from across the system participated.

“Each of the community and technical colleges in the system has a joint Achieving the Dream/SEM plan with strategies and tactics they are working to implement, and the conference is designed to help them re-examine their work in light of the changing enrollment environment and learn best practices from their peers,” said TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.

Leming cited enrollment challenges facing community and technical colleges, “particularly among minority and adult learners.” The keynote speakers provided insight into new thinking on who we have left behind and future directions. “We’ve been fortunate to have strong partnerships with the philanthropic groups represented by the keynote speakers, and we’re hopeful to have their support in the work ahead. Challenging times also mean there are areas for opportunity and growth,” she said.

The full conference agenda, speaker biographies, their presentations and other resources are available on the SEM 2022 webpage at tbr.edu/student-success/sem.



TBR's Strategic Enrollment Management webpage: https://www.tbr.edu/student-success/sem

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.