Exceeding expectations, one student at a time

Lenoir-Rhyne University implements Ellucian Recruiter™ to improve communications and relationships with prospective students.

Finding the right technology

For Lenoir-Rhyne University, a private liberal arts institution based in North Carolina and affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, few things are more important than solid, personal relationships with its students. The university prides itself on its ability to mentor and support its students through close, personalized attention. In fact, studies have repeatedly demonstrated that college students are most successful when they feel that their institution is genuinely concerned about them. Students’ grades are better, and they are more likely to remain at the institution and graduate in a timely fashion. Relationships with students—particularly prospective ones—can make or break an institution’s reputation.

To that end, Lenoir-Rhyne chose to leverage technology in its efforts to cultivate relationships with potential students. The institution also recognized the hurdles faced by colleges and universities when recruiting students and maintaining ties to those students. “I think one of the biggest challenges is simply the rate of change in technology, in particular technologies that prospective students use to communicate and collect information about different schools,” says Nathanael Summer, director of undergraduate recruiting at Lenoir-Rhyne University. “We know that more and more students are relying on the Internet, either on a desktop or a mobile device, to find out more about colleges and universities. They’re also building relationships with the technologies and sites they depend on and we have to keep up with how those work—we have to become skilled, very quickly, on how to effectively use that technology to reach out to students and the parents of traditional-age students.”

Lenoir-Rhyne—like many other institutions looking to implement a new solution to manage its relationships with prospective students—faced two main challenges. The first involved maintaining an adequate level of contact and protecting the institution’s reputation. “Prospective students have expectations about how admissions offices and universities will connect with them,” says Summer. “If we don’t meet those expectations, we risk prospective students developing a negative perception of our school. We need to keep up with the technology, and their expectations, to maintain a positive perception by students.”

The second challenge involved analyzing and interpreting available data and recruitment information to effectively make decisions. “We collect a lot of data—and we have the capability of collecting even more. We need to make smart decisions about how to analyze and use that data to drive our strategic and operational activities,” says Summer.

“Fortunately, Ellucian Recruiter™ offered a viable solution for Lenoir-Rhyne,” adds Summer. “We knew it would help us address and overcome both of those challenges.”

Building for the future while streamlining operations

One of the most important factors for Lenoir-Rhyne when selecting Ellucian Recruiter was the solution’s adaptability and flexibility. “We determined that Recruiter best met our current and future needs—and that was key to us,” says Summer. “We knew that there would be a great deal of time and energy dedicated to the implementation of a CRM. We wanted a program that would last, and not have to be replaced in three to five years’ time.”

Recruiter is so intuitive and the interface is so familiar that the enrollment counselors have it open all day, every day—they’ve embraced it as their primary tool to use in carrying out their responsibilities.
Nathanael Summer, Director of Undergraduate Recruiting, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Another key factor for Lenoir-Rhyne was Ellucian Recruiter’s integration with other Ellucian solutions. “We’re a PowerCampus school, and Ellucian was the only vendor that assured us there would be consistent live integration, and that was something that was very important for the university,” says Summer.

Lenoir-Rhyne also opted for the Jump Start program, which allowed the institution “fast track” implementation of Ellucian Recruiter. This option allowed Lenoir-Rhyne to begin using the solution more quickly, and also opened up an opportunity for the university to examine its business practices. “I think too often organizations become complacent in the way they do things, and the Jump Start approach emphasizes the use of best practices that Ellucian has gathered,” says Summer. “Recruiter is already pre-configured to use those practices and it really makes you think about the current processes and how they can and should be improved. I know that we’ve implemented better, more efficient processes through Jump Start. Our implementation consultant helped us to understand how we could accomplish our goals using Recruiter.”

Lenoir-Rhyne found that utilizing Ellucian Recruiter went far beyond simply implementing a CRM. Instead, the university discovered that it was a comprehensive solution that established a more effective framework for communicating with prospective students. “We have tried to consider what kind of experience students want to have throughout the admission process,” says Summer. “Our implementation of Recruiter helped us to streamline many of our objectives and helped us to make different decisions about the overall process.”

Lenoir-Rhyne is currently experiencing a substantial influx of students, and credits Ellucian Recruiter with helping the university to attract perfect-fit students. “We’re looking at the largest freshman class in our history,” says Summer. “We have experienced a 21 percent increase from our last academic year, and that accounts for nearly 100 students. That is a significant increase for a private institution of our size. Of course, there were numerous factors that influenced the increase, but certainly Recruiter was a part of it.”

A powerful yet simple solution

Lenoir-Rhyne has seen improved productivity and stronger relationships with prospective students after implementing Ellucian Recruiter. “Recruiter is so intuitive and the interface is so familiar that the enrollment counselors have it open all day, every day—they’ve embraced it as their primary tool to carry out their responsibilities,” says Summer. “Our counselors also feel they can customize it in many ways that are beneficial. They use it as their desktop and, because of that, they’re keeping better notes about conversations they’re having with students. They are learning and recording more about their students before they come in for visits, and can access that information easily.”

But Ellucian Recruiter is more than a user-friendly interface. Because Lenoir-Rhyne deployed the solution via SaaS, the university has seen other benefits as well. “We don’t have to worry about maintaining the servers on premises or performing the upgrades,” says Summer.

Overall, Lenoir-Rhyne has found that Ellucian Recruiter is a powerful and flexible tool designed to improve student success.

A partnership built on success

Lenoir-Rhyne and Ellucian have forged a strong partnership that allows the university to implement new and useful technologies—and to feel comfortable doing so. “There’s a partnership with my Recruiter consultant, a partnership with my cloud consultant as well as a partnership with ActionLine, the customer support network. I always know I have the support I need for whatever issues may arise,” says Summer.

I consider Ellucian to be our technology consultant. They understand higher education, they understand our institution, and they understand business.
Nathanael Summer, Director of Undergraduate Recruiting, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir-Rhyne believes its relationship with Ellucian has paved the way for a better, more effective approach to adopting higher education technology. “I consider Ellucian to be our technology consultant,” says Summer. “They understand higher education, they understand our institution, and they understand business. It is helpful to have a business-minded voice in the room that recognizes the challenges faced by higher education institutions. Ellucian brings to the table ideas and suggestions for process improvement that includes technology and beyond. They also keep us abreast of which technologies are emerging and may warrant our attention.”

Together, Ellucian and Lenoir-Rhyne University have built a partnership with one overarching goal: to develop and implement technology solutions that foster student and institutional success. Lenoir-Rhyne remains confident in Ellucian’s expertise. “We know that Ellucian is continually gathering information regarding best practices,” says Summer, “both on research and also on a practical end, and they help us determine how we can best meet the needs of our students.”