Student Demographic Shifts Demand Response

The following commentary is part three of a six-part series featuring updates, national trends and personal perspectives from the University’s leadership team regarding the future of higher education and Michigan Tech. All questions or comments may be directed to the author of the article, (jblehman@mtu.edu).

At the risk of dancing in yesterday’s confetti, this fall’s incoming graduate and undergraduate class rose considerably over the previous year’s total, by virtue of no small effort expended by a variety of involved entities on campus. In fact, early reports suggest that only three of Michigan’s 15 public, four-year institutions saw incoming undergraduate classes increase over the previous year (ours was about 4.2%). However, when looking at enrollment in Michigan’s public, four-year universities in totality, these early indicators suggest incoming undergraduate enrollment actually fell by more than 2%.

Unfortunately, the contraction of college-going students in the state is expected to continue. In Nathan Grawe’s book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, the economist paints a sobering picture of demand for higher education in Michigan between now and 2029. Across all sectors by institution type and students’ socio-economic class, Grawe predicts demand for higher education in Michigan will fall between 15% to upwards of 30% by 2029.

In response to the effects of this market contraction, we can expect to see more institutions, especially in the Midwest, engaging in more aggressive forms of student recruitment. On top of that, the Department of Justice recently mandated the National Association for College Admission Counseling eliminate a series of self-governing behaviors meant to reduce colleges utilizing high-pressure sales tactics. While we’ve heard this new recruitment landscape described as everything from the modern Wild West to Welcome to Thunderdome, there will surely be market forces at play in the next few years that will catch those not paying attention by surprise.

To mitigate these potentially threatening trends, Michigan Tech continues to vigorously retool its marketing, recruitment and educational outreach functions to expand market share and penetrate new market segments. Our goal of enrolling a larger, more academically prepared and more diverse student body that represents all corners of the state — as well as the nation and globe — is unchanged. It is critical to the long term health of the institution to maintain robust enrollment and our goal this coming year is to realize a 5% increase in incoming undergraduate students.

Investments in digital marketing allow the institution to craft messaging in a surgical and precise manner. Enhancements in mail and email outreach, as well as a more sophisticated communication management system, have realized a significant increase in applications over previous years.

Adjustments to both merit- and need-based financial aid continue to provide access for those who can benefit the most from a Michigan Tech education. And most importantly, the great work of our faculty, department chairs, deans, alums and in-the-field recruiters continues to show our prospective students the most distinguishing factors of a Michigan Tech degree.

One of those distinguishing factors, and perhaps our most significant pride point, is the unique mix of a world-class education with an “icing on the cake” sense of community. In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education released a research report titled, “The New Generation of Students: How colleges can recruit, teach, and serve Gen Z.” Within it, they explain that “services are the new campus amenities,” suggesting that a sense of community and services (academic support, social support, student activities) rise to the top of the search checklist rather than facilities.

Communicating this advantage is done best when it comes directly from faculty, staff and students. These conversations allow us to capitalize on our well-positioned, outcome-driven education, and move us into the pole position on prospective students’ ever-growing list of college choices.

For example, a 2018 research report by enrollment consulting firm EAB stated, “Effective yield communication involves a broad cross-section of the campus community in outreach to admitted students.” EAB highlights that “one group that is of particular interest in this regard is faculty.” The translation: when our students, staff and faculty come together to talk to prospective students about our unique mix of world-class academics and life-changing community, Michigan Tech becomes incredibly hard to ignore.

Thank you for what you’ve done to bring us this far in our recruitment efforts, and for the work ahead of us to ensure more students are made aware of the value of Michigan Tech.    

CTL Instruction Award Presentation Series: Lisa Gordillo

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning will present the Instructional Award for Innovated or Out of Class Teaching to Lisa Gordillo (VPA) at 4 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 3.

Gordillo's art and design students tackle large projects that frequently take them out of the classroom and into rich collaborations with other departments and community members.

In our third and final presentation of our fall award series, join Gordillo as she shares selections of recent projects and strategies she uses for cultivating creativity, developing students’ personal agency, and engaging students across disciplines. Her formal award presentation will follow what promises to be an inspiring talk.

Register to attend and enjoy coffee and light refreshments by Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Changes to 2020 Form W-4

The 2020 Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, is very different from previous versions. This is due to the federal tax law changes that took place in 2018. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not requiring all employees to complete the revised form and has designed the withholding tables so that they will work with both the new and prior year forms. However, certain employees will be required to use the new form - those hired in 2020 and anyone who makes withholding changes during 2020.

Even though the IRS does not require all employees to complete the revised form and even if your tax situation has not changed, we recommend you perform a “paycheck checkup” to see if you need to make adjustments to your current withholding. To conduct the checkup, you can use the IRS’s Tax Withholding Estimator. To effectively use the estimator, it is helpful to have a copy of your most recent pay stub and tax return. It is likely that the estimator will be updated to account for the 2020 tax tables in early January.

Please note: if you do not submit a new form, withholding will continue based on your previously submitted form.

Before completing the 2020 Form W-4, read the instructions that are included with the form. You must complete Steps 1 and 5. Steps 2, 3, and 4 are optional, but completing them will help ensure that your federal income tax withholding will more accurately match your tax liability. Step 1 is for your personal information; Step 2 is for households with multiple jobs; Step 3 is used to claim tax credits for dependents; Step 4 is for other adjustments (additional income such as interest and dividends, itemized deductions that exceed the standard deduction, and extra tax you want withheld); and Step 5 is where you sign the form. The IRS takes your privacy seriously and suggests that, if you are worried about reporting income from multiple jobs in Step 2 or other income in Step 4(a), you check the box in Step 2(c) or enter an additional withholding amount in Step 4(c). To determine the additional withholding amount, you can use the withholding estimator.

The IRS has also published Frequently Asked Questions that you may find helpful as you complete the form. If you have additional questions, please contact Payroll Services at 7-2130 or payroll@mtu.edu.

SDC Thanksgiving Break Building Hours

The SDC will observe reduced hours over Thanksgiving break (Nov. 23-30). Regular hours will resume Sunday, December 1. View the SDC Thanksgiving Break Building Hours here.

Volleyball Ranked 5th in NCAA Region

The Michigan Tech volleyball team is ranked fifth in the Midwest in this week's NCAA Regional Rankings. The Huskies are also No. 22 in the national AVCA Coaches' Poll.

The Huskies are 20-5 overall and 12-2 in the GLIAC. The Black and Gold also hold a 19-4 record against in-region opponents. Teams ahead of the Huskies in the regional rankings are Lewis (24-4), Hillsdale (21-3), Missouri-St. Louis (25-3), and Ferris State (21-5).

The Huskies have been to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments as an at-large selection and have won 20 matches for the third season in a row. They wrap up the regular season at Lake Superior State today (Nov. 15) and Saginaw Valley State tomorrow (Nov. 16). Tech clinched a home GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal match on Wednesday (Nov. 20) to begin the playoffs.

The regional rankings determine the potential seedings in the NCAA Tournament in each region. A team's in-region record and in-region RPI is given much greater weight than a team's overall record or overall RPI. The top eight in each region are selected for the NCAA Tournament.

Concur Travel & P-card Expense Training

Financial Services and Operations will have converted 100% of University departments to the new Concur software by Nov. 28.

For departments that are LIVE in Concur, faculty and staff may join our November Training sessions. Seating limited to 60.

The two session times are:

  • Thursday (Nov. 21) at 2 to 4 p.m. in MUB Ballroom A2
  • Friday (Nov. 22) at 9 to 11 a.m. in MUB Ballroom B

Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar

The next Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar takes place at 3 p.m. Monday (Nov. 18) in GLRC 202. Alexis Troschinetz, Clean Energy Resource Teams Behavioral Science and Evaluation Manager, University of Minnesota, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships & Extension, will present "Clean Energy's Role in a Carbon-Neutral Future" The public is welcome.

What will it take for us to achieve 100% renewable energy? The Environmental Engineering Michigan Tech alumna will share how she arrived in the clean energy sector and what her team in Minnesota does to further clean energy. She'll also unpack some of the broader puzzle pieces at play that contributes to a renewable energy future. Electrification, renewable natural gas, and storage are all tools in our toolbox, yet each comes with challenges.

This seminar will be via online feed.

Join us for the IDEA Hub Open House

What if students pursued missions instead of majors? What if barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration disappeared? What if instead of helping students to “learn about” we helped them “learn to become”? What if we taught them how to fail mindfully? What’s your big idea for educational innovation?

IDEA Hub, an innovation incubator for the Tech Forward Education for the 21st Century initiative, wants your input. Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend our kick-off event and Open House from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 20) in the MUB Alumni Lounge B. Come when you like and stay for as long as you can and share your big ideas while you’re there. If you’re not able to join us at the Open House, please visit http://www.mtu.edu/ideahub or reach out to Mary Raber or Marika Seigel to share your questions and ideas.

Job Posting

Job Posting for Friday, November 15, 2019

Staff and faculty job descriptions are available in Human Resources. For more information regarding staff positions, call 7-2280 or email jobs@mtu.edu. For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted. 

Building Mechanic II, Facilities. AFSCME Posting 11/15/2019 - 11/21/2019. External applicants will not be reviewed until after all internal applicants. Apply online.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. Accommodations are available. If you require any auxiliary aids, services, or other accommodations to apply for employment, or for an interview, at Michigan Technological University, please notify the Human Resources office at 906-487-2280 or mtujobs@mtu.edu.

Reminders

College of Computing Friday Seminar Today

Join the College of Computing (CC) for our Friday Seminar Talk from 3 to 4 p.m. today (Nov. 15) in Rekhi 214. Weihua Zhou (CC) an assistant professor of Health Informatics, will present his research titled: "Information retrieval and knowledge discovery from cardiovascular images to improve the treatment of heart failure."  

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Diverse Dialogues - Breaking Bread with Our Biases: Acknowledging Allyship Blindspots through Diverse Lenses

 Allyship is an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group. Allyship is not an identity, it is not self-defined—our work and our efforts must be recognized by the people we seek to align ourselves with. It is important to be intentional in how we frame the work we do. This dialogue will focus on ally work that reflects on power and history, and is centered in relationships and accountability to underrepresented groups.

Join Valoree Gagnon (GLRC), Kari Henquinet (PHC) and Amy L. Howard (CDI) from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 20) in MUB Ballroom A1 for a campus dialogue around allyship. Light refreshments will be provided. If you’re part of the dialogue, you’re part of the solution.

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Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser for 31 Backpacks

The non-profit organization 31 Backpacks provides weekend/holiday meals for local elementary school children in households who cannot afford food. This year they estimate more than 1,000 meals will be needed for winter break alone, so all help is welcome.

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser, hosted by Central Michigan University's Physical Therapy Student Organization (PTSO) Houghton Cohort, will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 21) at the Waterfront Restaurant in the Ramada Inn in Hancock.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Contact Colin Seidowski for more information or to buy tickets. Tickets are also available in the Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology Department office, 231 SDC. This event is all you can eat and take out is available. All proceeds go to 31 Backpacks.

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Chemistry Seminar Today

The next Chemistry Seminar takes place at 3 p.m. today (Nov. 15) in Chem-Sci 101. Marina Tanasova (Chem) will present, "Unraveling Preferences and Applications of Fructose  Transporters."

Tanasova received her PhD degree in chemistry, with an emphasis on Organic Chemistry and Spectroscopy, from Michigan State University. She then moved to the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota for postdoctoral training and worked on developing DNA repair inhibitors to potentiate the effect of DNA-targeting chemotherapeutics in breast cancer, sponsored by Suzan G. Komen Postdoctoral Fellowship.

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Film Board Presents 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

This weekend Film Board presents "The Nightmare Before Christmas," (1993). Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion. 

Showtimes:

  • Today (Nov. 15): 5:30, 8:30, 11:30 p.m.
  • Tomorrow (Nov. 16): 2:30, 5:30, 8:30, 11:30 p.m.
  • Sunday (Nov. 17): 2:30, 5:30 p.m.

Located in Fisher 135. Tickets are $3 and concessions are $1 each. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is Rated PG for some scary images.

Want to see what movies we’re playing next? Check out our movies and showtimes at the Film Board website: filmboard.mtu.edu.

Notables

Megan Frost KIP) was named a 2020 American Kinesiology Association (AKA) Leadership Institute Fellow. Jason Carter, Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education at Montana State University, who serves as AKA past-President and is one of the co-directors for the Leadership Institute, said, “This year’s cohort for the AKA Leadership Institute is simply outstanding. It contains eleven new or aspiring department chairs from programs across the entire United States. It is a well-respected and impactful professional development program for emerging kinesiology leaders in the field.”

The AKA defines kinesiology as the academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society and quality of life. This includes, but is not limited to, areas of study such as exercise science, sports management, athletic training and sports medicine, socio-cultural analyses of sports, sport and exercise psychology, fitness leadership and more. The AKA is committed to cross-disciplinary study in kinesiology as well as cross-disciplinary application of knowledge to problems in the physical activity field.

More information about the AKA Leadership Institute can be found here.

New Funding

Paulus van Susante (MEEM/MARC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $5000 other sponsored activities grant from the University of Michigan. The project is entitled, "MTU Team for NASA Lunabotics Competition." This is a 5 1/2 month project.

CTL Article of the Week

When I speak to a new group of students, they often identify me as the “guy who sends all of the reminders” regarding end-of-term course surveys. I apparently have a reputation for being “persistent”—though some would say that’s too kind.

Some might even call my pleas for participation straight-up nagging. I don’t want to annoy students, but participation in our surveys at Michigan Tech is comparatively high, so I keep working to find the right balance.

In a similar way, it’s hard to find a balance in our instruction. While we need to keep things on busy students’ to-do lists, it’s important to avoid leaving the impression that students have nothing else to do than every bit of coursework we provide.

Perhaps that’s why Kim Maturuk’s article Reclaiming the Nudge struck a chord. As the author advocates, the idea that a reminder can be built into an activity seems like fruitful ground to explore. Finding ways to keep our coursework present in relevant ways might work better than direct reminders.

The author gives an example of texted multiple choice questions, and I agree that technology is one easy way to “nudge”. Another specific example that crossed my desk this week is an ornithology instructor who maintains a twitter feed where students document birds they see and hear as they go about their day.

But I also think there is wisdom in careful consideration of the language we use in our classes, trying hard to build in low-tech “nudges” where we can. For instance, my homework assignments in my physics class are called “Trybys” to nudge students to make an attempt before they come to class on specific days. Offering carefully considered choices to students (to opt-in or opt-out of certain assignments or groups, for instance), might also provide ways to provide nudges rather than nags.

Nudging is an idea that’s been around awhile in marketing and economics, but it seems increasingly relevant to teaching as we consider how best to motivate students. If you’d like to talk more about ways to use high or low tech nudges with your students, stop into the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) on the Library’s second floor, or give us a call at 7-3000.

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