Admissions, Retention, and Financial Aid Committee
Minutes from meeting on May 9, 2007
Members present: Steven Amundson, Luke Anderson, Bill Greene, Joseph McClanahan, Jean Porterfield, Kathy Ruby, Ariel Strichartz, and Michelle Vigen.
Amundson called the meeting to order at 3:17 p.m.
Minutes from the April 11 meeting were approved with minor changes and clarifications.
Luke Anderson shared an Admissions update. As of May 9, 770 students have enrolled and, after some summer melt, he anticipates the class of 2011 will have about 720 students. This is very close to the desired mark. A few highlights of the report: 51% of the class are from Minnesota, down from 57.8% this past year. The percentage of multicultural students is up nearly 2% compared with last year. The number of Lutheran students are down 3% compared with last year, and St. Olaf legacy and first generation college students are about the same as last year. SAT/ACT scores are up noticeably (the average ACT score is .8 higher). GPAs held steady from last year. There are 44 or 45 states represented in the incoming class as compared with 39 last year. The gender balance is 54/46, an improvement over last year.
Kathy Ruby gave a Financial Aid update for the class of 2011. Although there will be some changes due to summer melt, at this point there are 457 needy students compared with a target number of 452. (No-need students tend to melt more than needy students.) Ruby was optimistic that the financial aid awards will stay within the budgeted amount.
The remainder of the meeting was spent collecting ideas/concerns/suggestions for the new Campus Life Committee in light of the fact that ARFAC will no longer be a standing college committee. Given that the newly organized Student Life Committee has a long list of responsibilities covering seven different areas (including enrollment), it was suggested that those issues relating to admissions, outreach, financial aid, and retention will no longer receive adequate input and guidance from faculty and students.
Bill Greene, who has served for 20 years on ARFAC, raised concerns that there will be less discussion of issues relating to diversity and that those concerned with these issues may feel out of the loop. Michelle Vigen asserted that current students feel invested in the recruitment of future students and they definitely want a continued voice in the process. She hopes there will be a core group of students involved in order to continue this dialog.
Luke Anderson has discussed with Michael Kyle Admissions’ dream of getting more faculty involved in the recruitment process. One goal is to have a letter on file from every department in the college. He hopes that the new Student Life Committee will set this as a continued goal.
Kathy Ruby mentioned that she could use faculty members to help the Office of Financial Aid think about long-term strategic goals. The Student Life Committee might think about how to engage faculty in this way.
Amundson raised several concerns. As St. Olaf progresses toward its goal of becoming a more and more selective national liberal arts college, St. Olaf must be concerned about achieving a balanced student body that can adequately support our co-curricular and extra-curricular programs. We must continue to be proactive in recruiting fine dancers, actors, musicians, athletes, etc. He noted that some of these students spend an inordinate amount of time honing their skills in these activities and sometimes don’t achieve quite as high an academic record. How might this fact affect our fine co-curricular programs if those skilled athletes, musicians and dancers are not able to reach the academic benchmark necessary in an increasingly more competitive admissions environment? He also raised the issue of financial aid and St. Olaf’s ability to compete with peer institutions that also have strong co-curricular programs. In some St. Olaf co-curricular programs, it was noted that St. Olaf is not able to compete with the large awards given to students at other colleges and universities. This has become increasingly evident in recent years.
The faculty, administrators and students who served on ARFAC this past year are concerned that the Student Life Committee will find the necessary time to receive adequate input from faculty and students in a range of important issues relating to admissions and financial aid. We have superb administrators in place, but it will be important to continue to solicit the help and advice of faculty and student representatives as we look to an ever-changing admissions landscape.
The ARFAC meeting was adjourned at 4:13 for refreshments in celebration of the year’s end and in thanks for all committee members’ contributions throughout the past years.