In one of his first initiatives as interim president at Southern Utah University, Rich Kendell organized a special phone-a-thon, of sorts, where he and his fellow President's Council members personally contacted SUU students who may still be on the fence about whether or not they will be attending the University this fall.
Calling simply to answer questions and field concerns students may have as they make their final decisions about whether or not to start classes in August, President Kendell — who has worked across higher ed in the state of Utah — sees the personal touch of these phone calls as part of the unique SUU student experience.
In his tenure as interim, Kendell plans to renew and enhance the University's efforts to give that individual attention to every student, seeing every student through to success, from admission to graduation.
“Hello, this is Southern Utah University’s president. How are you?” Though simple, Kendell’s greeting is anything but expected, and by and large, students seemed both surprised and pleased to be hearing from the University’s leaders.
“We were delighted with both the number of students we were able to reach and the pleasant conversations we had with our prospective and former students. They seemed genuinely happy to hear from us. Also we had many very pleasant conversations with parents.”
Stephen Allen, interim vice president for student services, who has long been over the University’s recruitment efforts as associate vice president for enrollment management, said “Personal attention has always been an SUU hallmark. In fact, students and parents are often surprised by the concern and interest our faculty, staff and administrators have for our students.”
Allen, who monitored the conversations with hundreds of students throughout the phone-a-thon, continued, “Tonight’s phone calls were about student success.” Allen, said a majority of the evening’s calls were placed to students who attended SUU last spring semester but who are not yet enrolled for this fall.
Allen continued, “We hope to have helped students through any roadblocks. More than anything else, we want to enable students to continue their education and, in these calls, we hope to have illustrated to our students how important the University feels about each student’s success.”
Kendell aims to reinforce that message — concern over every student’s progress and success — again and again.
“In both academics and extracurriculars, the college years mark a very formative time,” Kendell asserted. “SUU offers something special that students just cannot be guaranteed at larger schools with many more students to accommodate per faculty member. Our goal is to help our prospective students feel the weight of the great benefits that come with the personal attention we can offer here at SUU.”
University administrators plan to use data collected from Wednesday’s conversations with students to gain a better understanding of why students may not return, be it specifically to SUU or to their college studies in general.
"Our efforts tonight are about letting students know we care about them and their future plans,” said Kendell. “We want to help every student persist all the way to graduation so that SUU has added value to their lives in exchange for their investment.”