Strategic Enrollment Planning

In the fall of 2016, the Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid were combined with the Division of Student Affairs to create the Division of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. This administrative shift philosophically aligned the student matriculation and support process resulting in a seamless transition from inquiry to admit to integration, to successful student. Charged by the Chancellor of the University System to continue to grow enrollment, campus leaders identified the lack of a long-term view of enrollment or enrollment-focused strategic initiatives at the College. The institution engaged with Ruffalo Noel Levitz to assist in a cross-campus planning process to develop a strategic enrollment plan, and lead the Admissions Office in developing the College’s first strategic recruitment plan.


The purpose of the strategic enrollment plan process was to systematically examine key components of the College through an enrollment lens. The process called for an internal and external environmental scan to help identify the feasibility of continued growth, an identification of potential threats to the College’s enrollment, further definition of appropriate growth opportunities, and the systematic identification of opportunities to expand and grow programming in terms of enrollment (academic and co-curricular). The results of this planning process is meant to serve as a guiding document in directing the future of the institution and the distribution of financial and human resources toward enrollment growth.


After extensive analysis of both the internal and external environment in which the College of Coastal Georgia operates, it is clear that we must develop key enrollment strategies that ensure the College realizes its mission and strategic goals while we are:

  • intentional and deliberate in decisions about the allocation and use of resources;
  • aligning the actions of our various units across campus;
  • innovative, aggressive, and competitive in our pursuit of students;
  • mindful of the financial burden we place on our students.

As such, this planning process was an attempt to outline, quantify, and reconcile competing factors to develop a pathway that allows the College of Coastal Georgia to achieve its goals and those of the University System of Georgia, while establishing long-term enrollment health and fiscal stability. Implementation of the SEP will allow the College of Coastal Georgia to respond to an uncertain economic and demographic future with improved understanding of the characteristics, needs, and expectations of potential and current students. Implementation will also serve to maximize the College’s overall return on investment by increasing the College’s ability to take advantage of new opportunities for growth, while avoiding strategies and activities that provide little or no return on investment.

Process Summary

The Strategic Enrollment Planning Steering Committee (SEPSC) has primary oversight for the development, implementation, assessment, and modification of the Strategic Enrollment Plan (SEP). Development of the SEP was initiated in January 2018 at the direction of Interim President, Dr. Meg Amstutz and chaired by Dr. Jason Umfress, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management. Current members of the SEPSC include:

  • Dr. Michelle Johnston, President
  • Dr. Johnny Evans, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Ms. Michelle Ham, Interim Vice President for Business Affairs
  • Dr. Jason Umfress, Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management
  • Mr. Scott Williamson, Interim Vice President for Advancement
  • Ms. Amy Clines, Assistant Vice President for Admissions & Recruiting
  • Dr. German Vargas, Assistant Vice President for Academic Student Engagement
  • Dr. Jim Lynch, Director of Institutional Effectiveness
  • Jim Anderson, Associate Consultant, Ruffalo Noel Levitz

Primary drivers during the planning process were: relevance, authenticity, and differentiation in terms of student recruitment, retention and graduation.

The SEP incorporates these drivers into the College’s mission of being a “college of choice” and supports the shared values of quality education, experiential learning, global awareness, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

Effective Strategic Enrollment Planning enables the College to discourage independent unit-specific initiatives and narrowly focused programmatic approaches, and direct those efforts into an integrated network of strategies and actions. The SEP is grounded in and guided by the College of Coastal Georgia mission and vision, as well as the direction set forth by the College’s strategic plan, Coastal Vision 2021. It is informed by empirically defined key performance indicators (KPIs) and an understanding of the College of Coastal Georgia’s position in the University System of Georgia and in a competitive environment. The result of a successful SEP process is a set of actions that have been derived for the purpose of helping the College achieve its mission and strategic goals.

Five subcommittees were charged with developing specific strategies and actions to meet the goals of the SEP: Academic Subcommittee; Purpose, Price, and Promotion Subcommittee; Undergraduate Experience Subcommittee; On-Line Student Experience Subcommittee; and the Research Subcommittee. After the development, financial analysis, and vetting of the strategies, the subcommittees prioritized their recommendations and forwarded them to the SEP Steering Committee. The Steering Committee identified six strategies to address in the first year of the plan.

Strategy Prioritization

The following are high-priority strategies identified by the SEP Steering Committee that require immediate implementation. The strategies are mapped back to strategic objectives found in Coastal Vision 2021. Importantly, the implementation of initiatives deriving from the SEP will require that the College develop a comprehensive fiscal support strategy that addresses resource and funding needs necessary for the implementation of the SEP initiatives.

  • Conduct a comprehensive re-purposing of the College’s website & social media platforms in order to provide an appealing and informative virtual space where prospective students and the general community can learn more about the College of Coastal Georgia and navigate opportunities for engaging with the campus.
  • Revisit and revise/create a Student Success Experience program for first & second-year, traditional, adult, and dual enrollment students, to include the revamp of a common experience-type course.
  • Develop a strategic vision, mission and operational plan for the Camden Center and continue the conversation about the undergraduate experience at the Center.
  • Enhance the promotion of unique, high-demand, academic programs that draw interest to the College. (e.g. Bachelor of Science in Hospitality & Tourism Management; Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Cyber Security; Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Coastal Ecology; Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science; etc.)
  • Identify, develop, and promote academic programs to be delivered entirely on-line based on market demand, instructional capacity, and faculty support.
  • Align the mission, vision, and attributes of the College through the establishment of a cohesive identity, distinguishing itself as a unique institution of higher education with value for key audiences.

Click HERE to access the complete Executive Summary

Next Steps

Next steps include:

1.Continued enhancements to action plans in support of the Key Enrollment Strategies.

2.Determine the potential for implementing top-priority enrollment strategies and associated action plans given fiscal constraints.

3.Develop specific, realistic, data-supported, five-year enrollment targets for total headcount, retention rates, and new student populations.

4.Monitor progress on implementation of the SEP by tracking KPIs and adjusting specific action plans based on empirical analysis of internal and external factors and evaluation of overall progress.

5.Systemically integrate the Strategic Enrollment Planning process in the routine life of the institution so that it becomes a part of institutional culture, operation, and assessment. All phases of SEP must reflect shared vision and responsibility, campus-wide learning, and the incorporation of best practices to ensure seamless enrollment delivery systems and maximum engagement of students in academic and campus life/culture at the College of Coastal Georgia.

6.Develop a communication strategy supporting the strategic enrollment plan and the initiatives housed in the plan for the campus, community of Brunswick and Camden, and the University System of Georgia.

Executive Summary

A full executive summary of the plan can be found HERE.

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