Times are Changing in the Realm of New Student Recruitment

By The Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Enrollment Management

Demanding, testing, taxing, strenuous, exciting, stimulating, inspiring.  All these words describe the unprecedented pandemic recruitment cycle of 2021.

When face-to-face meetings ended abruptly in the spring of 2020, virtual forums became our friend and tutor. We were learning as we went. And our recruitment efforts proved to be strong even in the face of the “Zoom fatigue” that set in.    We were thrilled at the result, despite a decline from the previous fall term.

But the challenges were not over. We began to realize a sharp decline in applications in April 2021. It seemed that our only hope was to expect a surge in the summer months, which is typical for Perkins. That was not the case. The surge did not happen. Applications continued to decline.

We quickly huddled, as good teams do in crisis, and implemented a social media campaign with our marketing department under the direction of Connie Nelson. Anecdotally, the result was a high engagement with prospects and persons known to us. We do not know for certain the conversion from inquiry to enrollment from this strategy; however, we do know that the Perkins brand stood tall and present in vast communities.

We are at the end of the 2021 recruitment cycle and have not yet said goodbye to the pandemic. Obviously, the pandemic, with all its residue (lost employment, relocating, illness, fatigue, uncertainty, new employment, death in some cases), continues to loom in our lives today and maybe even into the future.

Considering the challenges ahead, we are asking for your help. You are in positions of leadership, in relationship with those called to ministry, worshiping alongside those who are considering vocational ministry and making important decisions for future church leadership. The great news is that, as one bishop said in 2018, God is still calling folks to ministry. We are simply asking that you connect us with any individuals who might benefit from a conversation about ministry discernment and theological education at Perkins. You know so well what makes Perkins distinctive: attributes like outstanding programming, vibrant community life, excellent leadership, and a vigorous education.

Dr. Stephen Bagby, Director, Admission Operations, in the Office of Enrollment Management, will be thrilled to engage with prospects that you send our way: sbagby@smu.edu, 214.768.2139. His specialty is nurturing applicants through to enrollment.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9b struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9b). Here is the reason.

The incoming class of new Perkins students, Photo taken on the Perkins Chapel steps after worship as part of Orientation on Friday, August 20.

 

These are our new students at the Dallas campus. Seventeen more new students have been admitted to the Houston-Galveston hybrid program; they attended orientation on Monday, August 30, at St. Paul UMC. Census data figures for new students will be provided in the October issue.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

The Rev. Margot Perez-Greene, Ph.D.