VP candidate Jennifer DeHaemers discusses nontraditional students, building resiliency


Jennifer DeHaemers speaks to Central Michigan University students, faculty and staff at the final candidate forum for CMU's first vice president of student recruitment and retention on Feb. 5 in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room.

Jennifer DeHaemers discussed nontraditional students and the importance of building resiliency during the final forum in the ongoing search for Central Michigan University's first vice president of student recruitment and retention.

DeHaemers addressed faculty, staff and students Feb. 5 in the Charles V. Park Library Baber Room, in the final of four candidate forums.

"This is the type of job I have been preparing myself for my whole career," DeHaemers said.

She is the associate chancellor for enrollment management at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. In addition to her current position, DeHaemers has served several roles in enrollment management and admissions at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, from 1997 to 2017. 

"The problems or the challenges are not unfamiliar to me and are ones I have worked with for a large part of my career," DeHaemers said. "I feel like I have a background of preparation that could help this institution be successful moving forward."

While discussing the enrollment challenges at CMU, DeHaemers noted the growing adult student market. 

"The adult market is the one that is a big opportunity for this institution when looking at ways to stabilize your enrollment," she said. "It's my understanding that there are over a million, maybe 1.6 million, of those adults in Michigan who have some college but maybe never got a (degree), so it's a large market."

DeHaemers believes that the university must rethink how it services students to appeal to the adult market. 

"They don't all have the same needs, but on top of that, their needs are very often different than what we prepare for with traditional student enrollment," DeHaemers said. 

When mentioning the importance of understanding the adult market, she said some children raised by helicopter parents are now in their 30s and may not have grown out of some of the behaviors and anxiety.

Due to the rise in anxiety in college students, DeHaemers believes that it is importance to help students learn to build resiliency. 

"What can we do as an institution to try and help to give students the opportunity to build resiliency and understand that getting a 'B' on a test isn't the end of the world – even a 'C' is not the end of the world, a 'D' isn't the end of the world?" DeHaemers asked. "You can recover from these things and there are many students and many alumni across the globe who can attest to surviving those types of things."

DeHaemers focused on the services CMU has and offers for students suffering anxiety but stressed the need to add resiliency-building programs. 

"You are doing a lot of the things that are necessary to provide support," DeHaemers said. "I feel like even at my own institution, we need to be intentional about the content of some of our programing so we can create opportunities to help teach students some resiliency and coping techniques."

Lee Furbeck, CMU's executive director of admissions, Dawn Medley and Anne Monroe spoke at candidate forums within the past week.

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 by Thursday, Feb 6.