Board to vote on search for new VP

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, during the Board of Regents meeting Feb. 13, 2014 to approve future plans of MSU. File photo by Lauren Roberts

Suzanne Shipley, university president, will ask the Board of Regents members for permission to launch a search for a new vice president of enrollment management at the meeting on Nov. 9. Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, would no longer be part of enrollment management and instead would focus on student affairs.

The new vice president would focus solely on enrollment issues, including recruitment and retention of students.

Enrollment decreased by 18 students in spring 2017 and increased by 16 students this fall. Those numbers create a two-student deficit just from one year alone — and while that may not seem like much, Shipley said this adds up over time.

“Since I arrived here two years ago, we’ve been trying to grow our enrollment and it’s been made clear that most Texas universities are growing and we are not,” Shipley said. “We need to show our vitality or else we become at a disadvantage for funding.”

With our $641,000 budget shortfall and unanticipated budget cut of $1.75 million, enrollment growth is more important than ever, according to Shipley and Lamb.

“All of the universities are competing with each other to get the best students and to increase our individual enrollment,” Shipley said. “Everyone wants to grow. We can’t have faculty and staff raises, operational support, funding increases, etc. without more funding and we can increase funding in one of two ways: increasing tuition or increasing the number of students. I’d rather do the latter because I want MSU to be an affordable, yet quality education.”

Lamb, who has taken on the enrollment management position since 2011, said he is on board with this decision.

“I’m supportive of this if the Board approves it. It’s a good direction for this university,” Lamb said. “Enrollment management is a complex job with lots of moving parts. It’d be well-served to have someone dedicated to just that.”

Lamb’s background and history for the last 22 years has been in student affairs. He said if the Board approves this search, he would be excited to focus mostly on student affairs again.

“I’ve had a very big workload the last few years, and my workload would still be heavy, but it’d be student affairs centered instead of enrollment management centered,” Lamb said. “Student affairs is where my heart is and I’m looking forward to potentially going back full-time. It’s my home.”

At the Board meeting, which will also include items such as downsizing of the health sciences and human services building renovation plans, Shipley will explain why hiring another vice president is essential for maintaining MSU’s identity.

There are four independent universities in Texas, meaning they are not within a bigger system such as University of Texas or Texas A&M University — Texas Woman’s University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas Southern University and MSU.

“We want to remain independent, otherwise we don’t get to keep our MSU identity,” Shipley said. “Enrollment is such a dynamic mix that we need someone who is fully dedicated to that position.”

Shipley said most of the finer details will remain unclear until the Board approves or denies her request for a search, but she described one of the qualities for this position.

“We want someone who is good with data, because that’s a huge part of enrollment management,” Shipley said. “They have to not only be good with data, but want to hunker down and research the reasons behind why our enrollment isn’t growing as fast as other universities and how to improve our recruiting.”

The estimated salary range of this position is $120,000-$140,000, according to Shipley. This does not include hiring of support staff.

“Hiring another vice president is expensive, but it’s more expensive not to do it. If the Board approves it and this works, the salary should be paid off in a few years from the enrollment increases,” she said. “If this position doesn’t work, it will go away. In my mind, there’s about a three-year window to see if this position works. If I don’t see any changes in that time, then it’s clear the position isn’t working.”

Lamb serves as Matt Park’s, associate vice president of student affairs, boss. If another vice president is added to the mix, he said there would inevitably be some changes in the administrator organization chart.

“If this is approved, there will obviously have to be some restructuring of student affairs. Matt [Park] essentially has three jobs: dean of students, associate vice president of student affairs and Title IX coordinator. If my job moves solely to vice president of student affairs, I’ll be able to relieve some of Matt’s responsibilities and he can better help develop a more robust student life.”

Shipley said this is a highly-sought position because of everyone’s desire to grow, but the importance of this position will impact the university on a larger scale.

“The world has just changed. We have to have a professional doing this job now,” Shipley said. “By freeing Keith’s attention from enrollment and having a position solely dedicated to growth, the better we’ll actually be able to grow.”

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