Parents Council Meeting Minutes
September 20, 2013
Present: Shelley Barton, Danny Chang, Kim Fuller, Eric Haynes, DeDe Kelly, Darcy Lewis, Steve & Karen Tardrew
Parents Council members introduced themselves and told a bit about themselves. We began a conversation about the Silent Auction in terms of the work involved and the funds generated. We will continue the conversation at the spring meeting. The Council empathizes with the position that tuition goes up but the scholarship helps bridge the gap with the money. Steve is willing to help.
Student Life Update:
Erik Albinson, Interim VP for Student AffairsErik in the last few months has a new job, new boss and new baby, Aiden. Working with President McInally has been inspiring. The President is McInally reassessing the entire college, getting to know people and meeting with all committees. This will be a good transition.
A student was mugged by three men on A Avenue walking home from HyVee. On A Avenue a student was invited into a man’s house but she could not remember which house. He followed her and she ran back to campus. Student was talked to on the way back to campus from near HyVee. Most crime is student-on-student. Ranking-wise Coe was ranked the safest in Iowa. Security bulletins are emailed to students, faculty and staff when an incident happens. Student Senate and Student Life walk campus every year to check on the lighting. The Cedar Rapids Police Department detective is assigned to Coe’s quadrant of the city. Crime is down in the Mound View neighborhood with 500 less calls than last month.
Coe’s security guards also provide walking escort service to students whenever they request. Crimes of opportunity are the crimes that happen on campus. Calls for security escorts average about 1-3 escorts per weeknight and about 5 escorts per night over the weekends. As of right now, the college is not interested in pursuing student led escorts due to liability issues. Furthermore, Coe security is easily meeting the demand of current escorts.
A guard is on the perimeter of the campus and a guard walks through campus. This is Coe’s fourth year with this security company. Four years ago the students ranked their satisfaction 60%; ranking is now 85% approval rating.
What number is a party? The answer to that question is if it looks like a party, sounds like a party, it is a party. Before they can have a party the hosts are required to go through risk management training. The host is required to have a guest list and food if the host is over 21 years of age.
Our current strategic plan will end 2015. Plans are underway for how to proceed and where we are going.
Changes to Service Learning. Studies show that deep learning often occurs outside the classroom. 20 hours of service was required in the original plan. Under the new plan Service Learning will occur within a classroom setting. The goal should be to inspire not require service. Similarly, the college is reevaluating the internship program. The focus of the internship program should be on learning with intentional processing of a student's experience. Both Service Learning and Internships provide a natural overlap with academic affairs that the college hopes to build upon.
Writing Center Visit: Professor Bob Marrs and two consultants
In March of 2012 the Writing Center moved to its new location in Gage Annex. Each year, the Writing Center employs 75-80 undergraduate writing consultants, making it the largest undergraduate writing center in the U.S. The staff works with student writers in all phases of the writing process--from initial brainstorming and drafting to revising and final copy editing. Because it's impossible for students to master all aspects of writing in a single Freshman Composition course, Coe has adopted a Writing-Across-the-Curriculum program that ensures students encounter writing within all academic fields. This approach provides students with writing experiences throughout their college career and increases the likelihood Coe's alums will be well-prepared for writing tasks after graduation. Prof. Marrs emphasized that a key issue in developing better writers is developing students' reading skills.
Academic Affairs Update, Marie Baehr, VP for Academic Affairs & Dean of the Faculty
The Dean’s family represents all stages of parenting; since 1984 she has been parenting. When she was looking for a VP position Marie was attracted to Coe because it is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). The roots of ACM roots are as an athletic conference. Team travel expenses eventually became exorbitant but the ACM retained the academic role – esp. in terms of study abroad opportunities. The ACM provides a strong study abroad program linked to the liberal arts curriculum. Marie focuses on making sure the faculty have everything they need to make it easy and possible for students to learn. Five members of the faculty have served as ACM Study Abroad directors in Japan, Botswana, Florence (two faculty members) and London.
This is wonderful for our faculty. The ACM is comprised of 14 institutions and it provides the funds to replace the Coe professor for the semester they are gone. One of the ACM staff writes grants for faculty development. In 2008, AACM received a $6M from the Mellon foundation to fund 28 post-doctoral fellows over a five year period. The fellow commits to the College for two years and in those two years teaches half time while continuing research, making quite attractive faculty candidates after two years. Of the 28 fellowships, Coe received four--one in each year we could apply.
Coe wanted more students to receive more high end scholarships (such as Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, and McElroy). Two students from Iowa schools were invited of the nine total schools to apply for a McElroy. This scholarship is for $10,000 for three years. A Coe student has received this award four out of five years.
For the last two years Coe has been a top producer of Fulbright Scholars. There are 125 top-producing schools and Coe is one of them, with seven scholars two years ago and four last year. This year Coe has twelve applicants for study in Spain, South Korea and Malaysia. Faculty members work with the students to be sure their application and papers are as good as they can be. One of the questions Marie asks the candidates is: What would your mother say about you?
The Long Range Planning Council was charged with determining a list of requirements to determine/select the new major that are consistent with the mission of the college. The new majors that have been added in the last two years are: communication studies (has 30 students), film studies, environmental studies (enhanced by the Wilderness Field Station), international studies, organization science (collateral major in psychology), art history, international business, and international economics.
Seven years ago when Marie began at Coe there were 86 full time faculty; there are now 94. Marie has hired 28% of the current faculty. In 2009 there were six vacancies on the faculty and it was risky to hire because of the economy; now those faculty members are here for life.
Direction of the college: Chaos theory (you can only predict out so far). Marie came to Coe because of the mission. Her goal is to make sure that 18-20 years olds get a really good start in their studies so they can do what they can do in the future.
The administration is working on a plan with new faculty to accommodate the increased enrollment. Peterson Hall has attracted students, especially biology students. Transition students have either a high ACT and low GPA or low GPA and high ACT. Students at risk are split among the committee members. Coe’s Faculty to student ratio is one of the allures of Coe, even with the increased enrollment.
There has been lots of literature about the death of the small liberal arts college including the direction of on-line courses; on-line gives you something really different. MOEC (massive online education) at colleges like Harvard, Stanford, etc. Course is eight weeks long and students do not spend more than an hour a week in the last three weeks on the course and get college credit for 15 hours of work. For people with a good skill set this is a way to learn but it does not improve their skill set. Students need to strive for writing, communication and critical thinking skills.
There are two reasons the liberal arts will not die. A smaller liberal arts institution can provide the basis for interdisciplinary study; large universities and on-line cannot do this and they are not a safety new type of environment for 18-year-olds. Marie believes that most 18-year-olds are not as mature as most 45-year-olds or even 22-year-olds. Students can get the education they need and have four years of a safety net environment where they are not completely responsible for themselves. This information will never be on the website.
Career Services: Michelle McIllece, Assistant Director of Career Services
Michelle has a BS in psychology, masters’ in psychology and an MBA from the Univ. of Iowa. She was a head hunter for five years and loved working with midcareer candidates. Coe’s Career Services (CS) teaches students how to do these things by themselves; how to manage their careers. Many if not most people don’t know how to do this.
They communicate with students via Coe Connections (mycoe.edu), Coe career events, recruiting events and fairs and part and full time job openings. They send an E-Blast every Monday to students.
Quick Fix Hours are offered twice a week. Sessions are 10-15 minutes long, no appointment needed. If more time is required then student’ make an appointment. CS will assist with resume review, how to answer questions, interview skills and grad school personal statements. Their Resource Library is linked to Stewart Memorial Library and there are 500-600 on-line career planning resources. Workshops are also offered (last week accounting prep workshops for interviews). Two resume workshops and two interview skills workshops a month. CS has also offered a career fair prep event. If Coe is participating in a networking event it is required that student attend a prep session workshop. CS collaborates with many students organizations. Next week they are offering a workshop with the Speaking Center on How to do a Workshop. In the spring they are co-sponsoring with the Student Alumni Association an Etiquette Dinner. The Sophomore Conference is offered right before move-in day so they can move in a day early and workshops are held regarding study abroad, career networking, etc.
Higher Education Consortium
In Nov. the Higher Education Consortium will host a networking reception targeted to seniors. Last year was the first time for this event. Networking happened with more than 30 hiring companies. Employers were looking for employees and the target audience was seniors.If a student wants to work in Alaska or wherever, Michelle would help them learn networking skills.
At what point is a good and appropriate time for a student to begin to ask the questions about her future. How do they stay in the present and yet step out into planning their future? Is there interaction between the Art Dept. and a student preparing for their Art Show or any other major? It’s an opportunity to ask what are you going to really do when you are done with school? Are there tricks of the trade to getting a job in a remote major i.e., art – what tools do they have to help the student sort through their options? There are two tools to help students determine their interest to specific occupations and motivators. The Strong Interest Inventory (statistics and research say it is reliable instrument) and students find it helpful. Word of mouth gets students into CS to take the Inventory. CS goes through the Inventory individually with each student. The Myers Briggs helps students figure out their personality and takes about 20-30 minutes to take the test in CS.
If a student has a major that is “practical” but they don’t like then it is a different conversation than the conversation is with a student who is studying what they love. 50% of first-year students have been to a workshop in CS.
President Dave McInally discussed several issue with the Parents Council, including impressions since his arrival at Coe in June 2013, the current situation with the strategic plan, and the outlook for the coming years.
Dave commented on Coe’s superb search process and extensive transition schedule. The initial impressions have been confirmed in his experience of day-to-day life at Coe. The college is more student-centered than is the case with other colleges in his experience and the quality of teaching and advising is extraordinary. There is a strong sense of optimism on campus and in the Cedar Rapids community.
Challenges include the retention rate (78.8%, compared to rates in the mid-80’s for other colleges of Coe’s quality), facilities (especially Eby Fieldhouse), endowment spending, and marketing/visibility. None of these came as a surprise—President Phifer and the rest of the college community were candid throughout the search and transition process.
The college is currently operating under a strategic plan scheduled to run through 2015. Dave mentioned that if no strategic plan had been in place he would have identified the same issues on which the college was already working; in other words, he thinks the current plan is the right one for Coe. Completing it will involve four priorities:
- Modest enrollment growth, on the order of 25-30 students over the next two years. The student head count is currently 1420.
- Initiatives aimed at improving retention.
- Improvements in athletic, recreation, and classroom facilities. This is likely to involve renovations to Eby and Hickok and it will be the focus of fund-raising in the near future.
- Marketing and visibility plan.
Council members concurred with the need for a marketing effort. They feel that Coe’s distinctive qualities are not widely known. Students and families appreciate Coe’s educational quality and liberal arts mission after they have been here for some time. How can we communicate this most effectively to prospective students? College rankings may be flawed but they are still influential—how can Coe enhance national recognition?
Council members discussed distinctions that should be emphasized in Coe’s communications, including the writing center and health professions. We should also make the most of our location in Cedar Rapids and the opportunities it presents for students, including internships. The Coe Plan offers some potential that may not yet have been fully realized. The ultimate goal is for Coe’s brand to be one of excellence in residential liberal education. A marketing advisory committee has been appointed and is working on all of these issues.
The Council also discussed retention. Coe outperforms national norms when it comes to retaining students of color, student-athletes, and students from outside of Iowa. The college will be looking at courses where students receive an unusually high percentage of D’s or F’s to determine what additional academic support might be needed. We will also review the advising process, with the goal of providing clear paths for helping students get to where they want to go.
The college will soon begin work on the long-range plan, which will be launched following completion of the 2015 plan. It will address additional priorities beyond the four listed above.Parents Council members emphasized that they wish to be actively involved. Dave commented that they can help right away by spreading the word about Coe in their communities.
Advancement Update: Dick Meisterling, VP for Advancement and Katie Kahler, Director of the Coe Fund
The organizational chart was circulated and Dick described all functions within the department; development, alumni/parents, and advancement services.
The Giving Report was circulated. Coe’s sources of gifts includes: alumni, parents, friends of the college, and faculty/staff. 2013 was a fairly good year and included the conclusion of the Defining Moment Campaign that garnered $90 million, and an NSF grant of $5 million for Peterson Hall.
Coe’s income sources include: tuition, endowment (8%) and the Coe Fund. The goal is to increase other sources: grow endowment and increase unrestricted gifts to the college. The goal for annual fund is $1.3 million.
Among its many objectives, the Coe Fund aspires to educate students about the importance of giving. The giving rate of young alumni is very low, attributed to several factors, including their loan balances and diminutive salaries. We also believe another explanation may be that while they are students they don’t realize the impact of philanthropy on their Coe experiences.
Last year the Coe Fund used the services of Ruffalo Cody’s graduate program whereby Coe students made calls under the supervision of a R/C manager. There were 12 calling/computer stations and utilized over two six-week periods (fall and spring). Ruffalo Cody projected an extra 5% but ultimately, no increase was obtained in alumni participation. (Participation is the percent of alumni who contribute in any one year – this is tracked in US World Reports, etc.) Coe’s participation is 21.9% and it has been falling for the last decade. The goal is to move this number upward via a comprehensive approach including direct mail, social media, face-to-face solicitations, and the phonathon.
Parents wondered how do the callers get people to talk and communicate? Initially they use a script, introduce themselves, and explain their major and activities. Then they ask for the alum’s memory of Coe, when was the last time they were on campus, etc.? A three-ask structure is used. Calls are segmented by grad year, donor level, etc. The first ask is based on their graduation major department – what $250 would do in your dept. (For instance, in the Physics Department $250 would bring a speaker to campus, gallons of fuel for off-campus study, equipment, etc.). Ask goes down incrementally. The last ask is a participation request. Saves $3.40 to Coe if can do credit card gift. Pledge fulfillment is so much better with Coe phoners.
Fulfillment results: 85 of in-house calls; 70-77% Ruffalo Cody fulfillment. 3,000 calls are attempted each shift. They dial a number 50 times without a gift before the name is removed from the pool. They have been calling for 3 weeks and are at 10%; hoping to get to 1,500 gifts. Being a phonathoner is not a work study job; callers are hired based on personality and for trainability.
Social media, letters, video, YouTubes, Dwolla Co. in Des Moines provide a way to pay expenses in Coe Fund office. Dwolla has 250,000 users in the U.S. They will do a media blitz for us – first college on the forefront of technology in terms of giving and they may also do the Senior Class Gift. The Sr. Class Gift hopes to teach students that the Coe Fund would rather have a gift from them than the room deposit you parents paid four years ago. 60% of seniors participated last year = $10,000. Janice McInally and Katie are creating committees for each class to help teach their peers about philanthropy.
Tuition Run Out Week is a philanthropy teaching tool. The money paid for tuition will run out in February. On this date the campus is plastered with signs that say: “This item brought to you by the Coe Fund.” Signs are adhered to copiers, toilet paper dispensers, etc.
The Coe Fund is working to increase their social media presence and student philanthropy and education on campus. Coe is third from the last compared to ACM schools in percentage of alumni givers. In relation to Iowa schools ours is not bad (clarification: our giving percentage looks good when compared to Iowa non-ACM schools. Participation looks anemic when compared with other ACM institutions). Last year we had only a handful of no need students.
First-year parents were called this year within a couple of weeks of the start of classes. First-year Parent Council members felt this was too soon to ask for a contribution and felt it would be better received if the first phone call was shortly after classes begin but the purpose would be it give warm fuzzies to the parents and see how they are doing with their child at Coe.
Asst. Dir. of Parent Programs