Parents Council > Meeting Minutes

Parents Council Meeting Minutes

October 24, 2014
Clark Alumni House Conference Room

Present: Gabrielle Brown, Danny Chang, Kim Fuller, Eric Haynes, Beth Ownby, Kim and Buck Jones, Darcy Lewis, Laura Sagers, Megan Goodall and Kate Rose

Absent: Dave '88 and Audra Fahlgren-Drahn '90, Tim Sagers '97, Steven and Karen Tardrew

Parents Council members introduced themselves to start the morning and the Parent Council roster was circulated for updates before presenters began.

Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations

One of the four main areas President McInally chose to focus on in the anchor leg of the current strategic plan was enhancing the marketing and visibility of the college. This decision was based in large measure on the competitive environment in higher education, with most of Coe's peers and competitors actively engaged in marketing campaigns. In September 2013, a Coe Marketing Advisory Committee (MAC) was formed to guide the process of creating a marketing plan. As part of on-campus discussion, more than 100 possible themes were developed for Coe. With the help of James Y. Canfield Professor of Psychology and Institutional Researcher Wendy Dunn, surveys were conducted with both prospective and current students. In addition, discussions were held with other Coe constituency groups, including faculty, staff, alumni and friends. As the result of the research and discussions, the theme chosen was "Coe makes it possible. You make it happen." It has been well received throughout the entire Coe community.

In addition, Coe will focus on the following Key Messaging Points in its marketing messages:

  1. Academic Reputation
  2. Student-centered environment
  3. Career opportunities

Along with the theme, a new logo for the college was created. The logo contains the Coe Victory Bell framed within the historic family shield of Daniel Coe with the founding year 1851. As with the theme, the new logo has been well accepted by the Coe community.

Historically, Coe has used advertising minimally in its marketing mix. In the future, Coe plans to commit resources to advertising in targeted areas. This plan may include traditional and/or social media buys, billboards/banners, and other media as appropriate.

Erik Albinson, Vice President for Student Affairs

Updates/changes in Student Affairs

  1. Structural changes were made in the department creating the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
    • Chaplain - Kristin Hutson
    • Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs - Steven Shelby
    • International Student Advisor - Becky Stonawski
  2. Residence life staff has added two new positions (a director and an area coordinator), bringing their staff to four people.
  3. The Director of Health Services resigned in the fall. There have been fill-in nurses, but Erik expects the position will be filled before the end of the term. (Coe has now hired a new Director of Health Services, Lindsay Shedek, who started work at the beginning of the spring term.)

Developments in Student Affairs

  1. Tom Hicks has been to conferences learning the new mandates about Title IX and is working with a Task Force of faculty, staff and members of advocacy organizations to revise Coe's sexual misconduct policies. The current policies were written when the focus was on counseling, but the new mandates are pushing an investigative model.
  2. The Positive Psychology1 goals Erik has talked about in the past are in place with the focus being on coping skills. Erik circulated a handout summarizing five elements of well-being from a recent Gallup poll2. The poll looked at the well-being of graduates and concludes there are five elements of well-being that are the results of a college education which Coe must focus on.
  3. Student Affairs is working on helping students find internship experiences and find the value in those experiences. Although some of the work may not be extremely satisfying, there are valuable lessons to be learned in the professional world and much to gain from an internship experience.

Jordan Ferree '14, President of Student Alumni Association

Student organizations on campus are using new technology to communicate with their members.

  • Ooh la la - An app being used by SAA which allows student organizations to post about upcoming events and meetings.
  • "Today@Coe" - This publication is produced by Public Relations Coordinator Megan Goodall and is sent out each day including information about everything occurring on campus that day - athletic contests, guest speakers, etc.

Jordan commented on her time here at Coe and says she has really enjoyed it. When she is not in the classroom she enjoys attending various events on campus such as the Coffeeshop Series the Student Activities Committee brings to the P.U.B. each week with great entertainers and performers. Regarding her classes and her relationship with her professors, Jordan said she really hit her stride with professors her sophomore year. While her professors were very welcoming and all said to come in and see them in their offices, she did not have the courage to do so until her second year. As a senior she has enjoyed her time here at Coe and looks forward to graduation this spring.

Lunch and Phoning First-Year Parents Discussion

We finished our introductions during lunch and began the discussion of phoning first-year parents. Darcy and Kim began by giving an update on the plan to phone first-year parents and how it came about.

Background regarding Phoning First-Year Parents

Some members of the Parents Council began thinking about the role of Parents Council and what it should be. Are there ways Parents Council can help? Rather than Parents Council members spending their time with the Silent Auction during Family Weekend, it was decided in light of Erik's presentation at the spring meeting about Positive Psychology, that building relationships would be a better focus. This is where the idea of phoning first-year parents began. Rather than calling first-year parents in the fall to ask for a donation, why not call to check in and see how the parent is doing? Therefore, the focus will be on building the relationships and getting to know the parents, ask how they are doing, etc.

After talking the idea over at a meeting the night before, Darcy, Kim, Danny, Erik, Megan and Kate decided first-year phoning would be a great addition to building relationships with parents and could add value to the college. Darcy, Danny and Kim have decided to work with this year's class as a trial run to see how it goes and decide what the value is of these types of calls. Could this help with retention and/or increase giving?

Plan for first-year phoning

  • No script - keep the conversation unique and genuine.
  • Darcy, Kim and Danny will phone first-year parents based on geographic location except for…
    • Fall Athletes
    • Parents who live out of the country
    • Parents with no contact information (some students have not listed a parent or guardian, so obviously these folks will not be contacted).
    • If the data can be delineated, students who transferred to Coe as a sophomore or upper classman/woman will not be called either.
    • It was decided to focus on those individuals who are true first-year college students and aren’t associated with a group or specific demographic on campus, as it may be harder for these students to find their niche at Coe without a group or demographic already assigned to them.
    • Parents will be provided with the resources to help their students and encouraged to provide their students with the resources rather than actually doing things for them.
    • It is important not to give out false information or make false promises, but rather provide resources to make something happen.
    • For now, this is being done as a pilot program with a select group. Data will be collected to see if we should roll this out to the rest of Parents Council in the coming years.
    • All Parents Council members are very energized by this idea and are excited to implement it. We will see how it is received by first-year parents and will report back at the spring meeting.

Susan Wolverton, Professor of Theatre Arts and Department Chair

Susan came to Coe in 1986 and has focused her teaching on the design aspects in theatre arts. She is chairing the department this year and has seen a lot more involvement from students of all majors and interests get involved in the theatre department.

2014-15 Coe College Theatre Production Schedule:

  • "Evie's Waltz" written by Carter W. Lewis
  • "Tartuffe" written by Moliere in translation by Richard Wilbur
  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jon Jory based on the novel by Jane Austen
Department Overview
  • With an open door policy, class numbers are good and involve students from all majors, interests and talent levels.
  • Not as many students are majoring in Theatre Arts mainly due to the perceived practicality of the major (Coe's New York Term has helped theatre majors in this area, creating a pathway for students to find a career or internship to gain real-world experience). The faculty illustrates for parents and students the various skills gained from theatre courses and production work such as effective collaboration, clear communication, and time management, all applicable to any career.
  • 21 students are currently signed up for May Term to Cornwall, England, which will be offered this spring and will specifically focus on playwriting.
  • Coe invites local high schools and care centers in the community to Coe for a matinee performance of each production and has had a great turnout. High schools as far as North Cedar and Washington have come recently.
  • The student theatre organization, Off-Stage Players, has been very active. Hosting "Blindspot" throughout the semester, allowing students an opportunity to showcase their talent in an open mic format. They also worked with other student organizations such as Coe Alliance this past fall to put together an event titled "Spectrum Stories."

Upcoming Plans for Theatre Arts

  • Bring more playwrights to campus for talks and workshops (Ex. Carter W. Lewis was on campus this fall for "Evie's Waltz") - this allows students to learn from professionals in the field of Theatre Arts.
  • Update facilities to provide more classroom space and make Dows Fine Arts Center more efficient for students with little cost to the budget.

2015-16 Production Schedule Ideas:

  • Technical Director's wife, Lisa Schlesinger, is a playwright who will be commissioned to write a play for Coe suited for college-age female actors with an environmental theme.
  • Musical production in Fall 2015

Bill Carson, Alma A. Turechek Professor of Music & Department Chair – 25 years at Coe
Marc Falk, Pearl M. Taylor Associate Professor of Music – 11 years at Coe

Department Overview

  • Six full-time faculty and about 25 part-time faculty.
  • Currently, the Music Department offers major and elective courses as well as performance and non-performance based courses.
  • Students who choose to major in music can take a couple of different tracks at Coe.
    • Bachelor of Arts in Music (BA)
    • Bachelor of Music (BM)
    • The Music Department has an open door policy and allows non-majors the opportunity to broaden their interests and explore music as an elective. There are a lot of opportunities to be involved in music and still do other things that may interest the student.
    • The Coe College Concert Band recently took a trip to Europe, allowing 50 students, alumni and faculty the opportunity to travel around, performing in beautiful concert venues. The Coe College Concert Choir plans to offer a trip in the near future giving students a wonderful opportunity.
    • Current alums are performing at public venues in the area and local churches, while one alum in particular is part of the Navy military band.

Upcoming Plans for the Music Department

  • The Music Department will host an alumni concert during Homecoming Weekend 2015.
  • Recital hours will continue to take place on Thursdays where people may attend and hear stories from musicians, alums, etc.
  • The college is working towards getting concerts available via livestream, but has had many challenges regarding this due to copyright issues. It would be great for those parents to be able to enjoy their students' performances from afar.
  • The department is considering doing a concert with all ensembles (similar to the Homecoming Showcase Concert) during Family Weekend so that parents of any student musician would be able to see their son/daughter perform.
  • Faculty will continue to grow the department and showcase to prospective students the music and leadership opportunities available to them here at Coe.

David Hayes '93, Vice President for Advancement and Associate Professor of Business Administration

David Hayes graduated from Coe in 1993, majoring in business and economics with a minor in history. After graduation he attended the University of Iowa where he received his law degree and then came back to Coe as part of the faculty and legal advisor to the President. He has since moved into the Vice President for Advancement role at Coe, and although it's hard being out of the classroom, David is happy to be in Advancement and is excited for the future of Coe.

A summary report of overall advancement revenues for FY 20143 were distributed and reviewed. The report of giving is attached to these minutes. Mr. Hayes outlined several strategies the advancement team is adopting to address a number of critical areas. A question was asked about how easy it is for a donor to designate a gift to a particular area of the college. Mr. Hayes outlined the multiple options available, including a whole slate of options listed on the on-line giving webpage.

Mr. Hayes asked the council for guidance as it relates to parent giving programs and opportunities. For the current year, Mr. Hayes reported that although there are some parents being called as a part of Phonathon, parents of first-year students will not be called until spring. The council offered multiple suggestions about how the college might better motivate parents to make a gift, including focusing on the value of a liberal arts education, the relative value that Coe represents given its quality, and the need for scholarships to allow students the ability to attend Coe at a more affordable rate.

The final topic of discussion involved a review of the parent scholarship fund initiative. This year, Parents Council took the Silent Auction out of Family Weekend where the funds donated went directly to the Parent Scholarship Fund. We now must make up for this gap in funds. Some ideas to accomplish this include the need to focus on what the Parent Scholarship Fund has done in the past for students when asking for donations; the need to tell a better story, and the need to remind parents that they can pay it forward and help current students receive additional funds they need just as someone did before them and hopefully will continue to do for many years after their student leaves.

President McInally

President McInally thanked the Parents Council members for being in attendance. This is his second year at Coe and it has been everything he has imagined with a great student-centered environment. The college's core mission is going strong and students have been invited to the President's house to discuss issues so he can continue to get to know things from a student perspective to make things better.

State of the College

  • Record enrollment with room to grow to 1,450-1,500 students, while maintaining a student/faculty ratio of 11 to 1.
  • This fall the goal was to enroll 405 students, which was exceeded by enrolling 423 students.
  • Coe opened the year with a balanced budget.
  • The energy reduction project is now two-thirds complete which will provide savings and improve the college’s carbon footprint by 25%.

Update and Developments at Coe

  • This year we launched the new my Coe plan with first-year students, an individualized academic program for each student to help guide them through college. The program allows students to see how progress is being made towards their goals and helps keep them on track towards graduation.
  • Coe continues to forge a stronger relationship with the Cedar Rapids community which has a lot of upside potential. President McInally has been received with a warm welcome. Our location provides internship and community involvement opportunities for our students, and we must embrace this.
  • The new strategic plan is being discussed and will be introduced in 2016.
  • The recent Board of Regents decision has created significant incentives for the Iowa universities to recruit Iowa students, which puts private colleges under a lot of pressure.  Coe must stay abreast of the changes in higher education and prepare for the future.

The college is completing the current strategic plan with four anchor leg initiatives:

  1. Student Enrollment Growth
  2. Marketing and Visibility Plan
  3. Facility Improvements (Energy reduction project and Eby/Hickok Hall Renovations)
  4. Retention

All aspects of the plan are going very well except for retention. Retention is a serious issue as we currently sit at 77.6% (first year to second year), while our peers average about 84%. The my Coe plan should help with this and additional faculty involvement will help as well.


Coe has done a great job looking at many things regarding retention, but it is important to focus on the broad processes that affect all students, particularly those related to academic progress. Current areas to pursue and efforts to improve retention are listed below:

  1. Who will keep track of retention efforts? Data records, etc.
  2. Coordinate our support efforts
  3. Simplify complex processes
  4. Articulate and deliver on brand promise
  5. Identify high risk structures. Example: Courses with high percent of students who withdraw.
  6. Review FYS and advising processes.

We have to admit our shortcomings so we can make things better for the future, but we can only do as much as our budget allows. We need to decide what issues we want to focus on and what will be most effective in the end.



Supporting documents:

  1. A Primer in Positive Psychology
  2. Great Jobs, Great Lives: The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report - A study of more than 30,000 college graduates across the U.S.
  3. Coe College Fiscal Year End Report 2009 - 2014