VP candidate Lee Furbeck reviews scholarships, enrollment strategies at first forum

Lee Furbeck speaks to Central Michigan University students, faculty and staff at the first candidate forum for CMU's first vice president of student recruitment and retention on Jan. 28 in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room.

Lee Furbeck discussed enrollment and retention strategies,  scholarships and nontraditional student pathways during a candidate forum for Central Michigan University's first vice president of student recruitment and retention.

Furbeck, executive director of admissions at CMU since 2019, addressed faculty, staff and students Jan. 28 in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room, in the first of the four candidate forums.

"In many ways it is an awkward position to be interviewing for a new role when you all haven't had the opportunity to see me prove myself in my current role," Furbeck said. "We can look at our applications, we can look at our admit numbers, we can look at the trajectory of our deposit numbers as those are coming in. We can see that yes this looks very positive, it looks like some of the changes we've made have paid off but we don't have any proof yet." 

Before coming to CMU, Furbeck was the director of undergraduate admissions and student transition at Cleveland State University. The new freshman enrollment number had increased 23% in her five years there.  She has also served as senior associate director in the admissions office at the University of Kansas and associate director of admissions at Iowa State University. 

 Furbeck discussed her strategies to meet and set goals for enrollment and retention. 

When starting at CMU, Furbeck noticed the enrollment plan only had one year.

"One of the things I would look most forward to in this role is crafting a five-year plan or beyond," she said. "We are going to 2030 with our strategic plan; we need to plan that far out with our enrollment plan."

According to Furbeck, the enrollment plan would not only include getting people to CMU but getting students to stay as well. 

She believes that a major tool in recruitment and retention is scholarships. 

"When you're talking about financial aid leveraging, in a sense, what you're saying is, 'how can we make sure that we are offering students a package that is in the proper amount that is going to attract them to enroll and retain them, but not offer too to where we are wasting resources that we could have used on other students that they would serve a little bit better?'" Furbeck said.  

As she explained the difficult connection between merit- and need-based aid, she said scholarships need to look at test scores, GPA and the need factor.

In addition, Furbeck stated the need to appeal the scholarships and market to prospective freshmen entering with dual enrollment credits.

"A large percent of our students, an increasing number, are coming in with college credits," she said. "Many times students who are participating in programs where they earn college credit before they graduate high school, are unpleasantly surprised when they don't necessarily do what they thought or were told that they would."

Furbeck mentioned that as the amount of students coming in with credits continues to increase, the credit hour enrollment doesn't necessarily go down by much due to how the credits transfer. Students who come in with a year or more in credit hours may still have to stay at CMU for 4 years, so it doesn't have a large impact on retention rates.

The final three candidate forums include Dawn Medley on Monday, Feb. 3, Anne Monroe on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and Jennifer DeHaemers on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The forums will take place at 1:30 p.m. on there respective day in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room. 

The forums can be streamed on the senior officer searches website. Any feedback related to the job can be submitted at the forums by completing the candidate evaluation form or emailing any comments to president@cmich.edu.