Episode 87: The SECRET To Building Business School Enrollment with Dorothy Harpool

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Shiro Hatori
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the higher ed demand gen podcast hosted by concept 3d. If you like our content, please follow and subscribe to us on Spotify, Apple, or Google. And if you’re on Apple, please drop us a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. My name is Shiro Hatori. And I will be your host today. And I’m really looking forward to talking about the secret to growing business school enrollment. And for the conversation. I’m really excited to introduce Dorothy or Dottie Harpo. She is the Barton school of business executive director of engagement and prominence. Welcome to the show, daddy.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be with you.

Shiro Hatori
Great. And I do ask all of my guests this question. It’s an icebreaker. Please tell me what you love about higher ed.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
I think what I love most about higher ed is just seeing the results of your labor. I’ve been in the business for 36 years, and at at Wichita State University in the business school. And it’s so gratifying to see a student who has been out 1520 years. And somehow I see them somewhere. And they talk about what they’ve done in the impact that we had on on their career journey. And it’s just so fulfilling. I can’t imagine working anywhere else. That’s

Shiro Hatori
fantastic. Thank you for sharing that with us. And I mean, and I know literally a living example of this person. This person has been on the podcast and a prior episode, Bobby can do. And I believe he was actually a former student of yours, right

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
back was one of my students. He did very well in class very, very well in class. And he is he’s an example of someone that I’m not sure he thought he was going to stay in higher ed as long as he has. But he too got got that bug. And is is just doing so many amazing things for this institution. And I’m so proud of him. Yeah, how

Shiro Hatori
fantastic I mean, and to our listeners, just, you know, fun fact Bobby can do is the ABP for strategic enrollment management and Director of Admissions at Wichita State. So really amazing. I asked as Dottie and on our first intro call, like if you know, Bobby, and she was like, Yeah, of course her eyes lit up. And she’s like, yes, she was. He was one of my students. So really interesting. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Well, you know, that’s all his success is all him i It was just I just happened to be around when he was younger.

Shiro Hatori
No, I doubt that. But I totally respect that what you said, Well, yeah, can you tell us a little bit more about your role, and also the Barton business school as well?

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, the Barton School of Business is 98 years old. We actually started as the College of Business here at which does state and received an amazing gift from Frank Barton, who was one of the creators of Renta center. And with his gift, we renamed the school the Barton School of Business. And his legacy lives on with with our whole entrepreneurial type of of emphasis that we have in the Barton school. My job is, well, my job title is executive director of engagement in prominence. And what I also am on the marketing department in faculties, so I do teach marketing courses. But my engagement job is is related to the fact that we are in the biggest business center of Kansas, and a business schools partnerships with the business community are vital. And it is, I have the really the luxury of being able to go and speak to people in the community business people in the community and, and work with businesses to see what they need from us what we can do for them. And, but mostly it is to, to develop opportunities for students.

Shiro Hatori
That’s fantastic. And I know go going on the topic of foreign school business. Right I know you’re you’ve been a part of many different programs and marketing strategy. Over the years, can you tell us a little bit more about like what’s working today? And specifically, I think you told us around how you’re increasing partnerships to foster increased enrollment.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, we have, we certainly are increasing partnerships with the business community, which is really been a part of the business school since I started 36 years ago. But the, what we’re seeing over the last few years, is the partnership that we have, and we have built with community colleges. And to be honest, when I started in higher ed, universities, and community colleges, were not necessarily partners, there was there was a lot of competition. And it really there were, there were quite a few silos built, at least in the state of Kansas. And what I have seen, and I’m happy to, to, to have seen this is that now universities and community colleges are seeing that we actually can partner, and that students are looking those first two years to possibly save some money, not possibly all absolutely save some money by going to a community college for some of their general education courses. They may not be sure where they want to go with their career. And we’ve started to embrace that concept. Now, do we absolutely enjoy a first year a student coming and staying here for four years? Absolutely. But not every student’s going to do that. And so we have spent a lot of time and effort and and I think a real, it’s been a real paradigm shift, that we look at community colleges as partners. The University is the leading transfer institution, the University here in the state of Kansas. So community colleges are a significant part of our transfer student body. But also, we have a lot of students come from other universities and ended up at Wichita State. How we partner with community colleges is with Bates two plus two programs, which means that each student would go to a community college for two years, graduate with an associate’s degree, and then transfer to the Barton school. And we have worked really hard and still working to make that transition seamless, that we actually do what’s called dual advising, where the student would have an advisor at the community college, they have advisor here in the Barton school. And those two advisors communicate with each other, to make sure that student is taking the classes, they need to make that two plus two plan work. And so we have some some pathway programs, we like to call them pathway programs that go so far as to include the community college students in some of our activities, and when we have speakers, that they are invited, so they they don’t have that big transition from a more smaller community college, to a major metropolitan university. So that those partnerships are part of of what I do. And we’ve we’ve really started to build, we’ve always had these partnerships, but we’ve really started to put a lot of effort and time into making them as seamless and as attractive as possible to the students. And so we’re really proud of what we’ve done. And that has contributed to our increases in enrollment because the last two years we have seen increases in enrollment. And part of that can certainly be traced back to these community college relationships.

Shiro Hatori
Yeah, that’s fascinating. I think I mentioned before we started recording that, you know, I tend to talk a lot about digital marketing tactics and how you need to improve your advertising but this is a you know, something a little bit outside of the box of what I’m used to talking about and It’s It’s fascinating. You know, it’s it’s doesn’t seem like it’s it’s non digital, I guess. And so that’s what like interests me, you know, it has nothing to do with digital. And it’s it’s been having a positive effect on enrollment. I’m curious, I have a question. So in this may depend on the community college, but when the community college is doing their recruitment and their marketing, are they actually in their messaging? Are they saying that they that, you know, transferring to, to the Barton School of Business is a potential in the future? And are they using that as a lover in their marketing and in recruitment tactics as well? Yeah,

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
we both both sides of this equation, utilized, utilize this process and utilize this option for students. Because students are wondering if they can transfer courses, and you never had, at this stage in higher ed and the expense of of getting a college degree or associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, you don’t want to take course that you don’t need and, and so it is, it is the equivalent of a product, that from a marketing standpoint, that we have a product where you’re an associate’s degree per student. And we’ve got, we’ve got a follow up degree for you. And, and so it’s, it’s kind of old fashioned marketing, create products that people want and need. And we’re in the environment that we’re in right now, in higher ed, students won’t need this. We also have looked at community colleges, and what they are offering, and how we could contribute not just with a general business degree, which is the obvious low hanging fruit. But we have we are introducing in the fall a new hospitality program. And that hospitality program is reflective of the really high quality culinary school and hospitality programs that several of our community college partners are offering. And so these students, if they’re in, for example, in the culinary program at one of these community colleges, that’s great. They become a chef, they have all those skills. But if they want to open a restaurant, they can come to us and get the business skills that, that they need to do that. And so we’re really excited about the program we’ve gotten some really good feedback from, but probably 50, employers of all types of hospitality of the hospitality industry, who supported us in this effort. And we’re really excited to get that started in the fall.

Shiro Hatori
That’s fantastic. Yeah, I mean, I do I do imagine, I’ve never been to culinary school, but someone who had really enjoys cooking and dining out, like, you know, I hear the stories of, you know, people with amazing culinary skills, but have no business skill, opening a restaurant, and I think like restaurant business or service businesses, like have the highest fail rate or something, right, like, and so like, yeah, what an amazing thing you’ve set up.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah. And it’s this, this philosophy really can be translated, or can can be looked at in a whole different way. Because originally, that’s why the MBA was created. The MBA was created for engineers that engineers were moving up in companies, and they didn’t have a clue. And so years and years and years and years ago, when the MBA was created, it was for the same reason I just talked about that. And what we’re seeing with our graduate program, is that that has not changed, which is the air capital of the world. We make airplanes. We manufacture airplanes here, and we’re one of the few manufacturing hubs, certainly in the United States, if not in the world. And so we have a huge amount of engineering positions in the city. And so we recruit engineers into our MBA program and have tailored our program to understand that these are really high quality students, and they have great technical and statistical skill. But they’ve never taken a marketing class in business as you as we talked about you and I both embrace this concept, you can’t survive if you’re not marketing your products. And so it’s, it’s fun for us to bring them in to the fold of business school.

Shiro Hatori
That’s fascinating. And I’m also learning a lot because I didn’t know this story behind the NBA. That’s great. Okay, that’s awesome. That makes a lot of sense. Because I think, yeah, maybe the engineering job wasn’t as it was, it was it must have been a newer thing at one point. Right. And so it was developed so that these different pathways into businesses, it makes sense. Yeah,

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
I guess the, the MBA program is has a lot of management leadership, types of skills, and that the probably didn’t get when they were in aerospace engineering. But we have some great masters level in engineering also. But we do get some of their students. That’s

Shiro Hatori
exciting. I’m also curious, just you know, when you say you’re creating these partnerships, I know they take a lot of time to develop, to make them as seamless as you’ve done, you and your team have done. But like, how do you start the initial conversation? Like, are you the one reaching out to regional community colleges or local community colleges? Like how does that process go? Like, if if someone listening to hear today is like, that’s a great idea, I want to start conversations like how do you? How do you get started?

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, I, we have a meeting, that we’ve set up with a community college that we haven’t had a lot of conversations. And the, I just used my network, that usually there is somebody on this campus on on our campus that I know that I think you have to know somebody there. And so it’s it’s old fashioned, I send an email saying who I am, and I was given your name by such and such and did not get a response. And we have a meeting set up next month. And it’s just reaching out. And what I have seen in this, that’s not the first time I’ve done this, it’s just I’m smiling because I just had to do it. But these schools, they’re looking these community colleges, they too are looking for students. And if they can offer this kind of, of value added experience that you start here, you end up getting a degree also from which does state’s burden school, it’s a win win. And so it was a little easier than I thought it was going to be. But we’re really what you really have to think about is making sure that two sets of students success department work together, and which I can make the connection. But it’s really up to our Student Success Manager to develop a relationship with the Student Success Manager at the other community college. And so because if we don’t have that connection, then the students do not have a good experience on the pathway. And people hear about that. And so it is it’s not just what’s make friends and let’s be friends, we actually have to implement these long term policies and procedures so that the student experience is the level that we expect.

Shiro Hatori
That’s great. Yeah. So it sounds like you know, I’m just trying to repeat back what I’m hearing from you is getting students success teams involved in these conversations early is a great way to figure out if you’re a good fit or to figure out each school strength and how you can complement that with weakness or strength, I guess.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, the meeting we have in about a month. It is the manager of student success. One of the chair people of an academic department and myself, and then they’ll take over from there. Once Once we start.

Shiro Hatori
That’s great. That’s really actionable advice, everyone that’s listening. So thank you for the tips. In terms of Barton School of Business, are there certain things that are really working? Well, from a program perspective, outside of this new hospitality program you’re going to launch?

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, we have seen that. We’ve introduced a few master’s programs, the supply chain, master’s program and a business analytics program. at the masters level, they are both in person programs. And we have seen tremendous growth with those two programs. And interestingly enough, it’s not all domestic growth. This, we’re seeing a lot of international interest in those two programs. Anything related to stem, we actually just recently got our had our master’s in economics is now stem designated. And they’re seeing an increase that having that stem designation is extremely attractive. For internet international students, at least we have seen that. And in so the other and near and dear to my heart, the marketing department or undergrad marketing department is has been growing quite a bit. And one of the reasons why it’s growing is that we have changed the program based on what our advisory board told us to do. And that is, do things related to Ai do have have these students come out with AI knowledge have them come out with we actually this semester have a virtual reality class, in the marketing major, and so that students can learn, you know, how to how not necessarily how to create, but how to use virtual reality. And in their marketing efforts. We have a series of social media classes, and from a marketing not just cuz I’m talking about the marketing department, but just from a marketing perspective. It’s a lot easier to sell something new and improved than an old program. Yeah, and so you don’t have to create. We haven’t, you know, we’ve had a couple new programs three or four recently, but just revamping your existing programs, and positioning them as this is exactly what the marketing advisory board said you’re going to need. And so that those types of program revisions we have, we’ve gotten a lot of traction.

Shiro Hatori
That’s amazing. And I’m just curious, what which classes do you still lecture at? or

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
I am right now teaching the intro class. And so it which is really fun, I teach consumer behavior, I’ve taught consumer behavior for years, I taught design thinking, I’ve taught a lot of courses, but it’s fun to teach intro and just get people like skip the students. And it’d be great if I got a commission if everybody that changed to a marketing major, but we don’t have that system. But it is it’s fun to introduce students to to the discipline and and see if they they continue on.

Shiro Hatori
It’s great. Well, speaking of intro to marketing or the the fundamentals of marketing, what what is Barton school of business doing from a positioning standpoint that you think you know, this is more high level right, that Barton school business is doing that’s really helping themselves position themselves correctly in the market.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
We position ourselves as the real world business experience, and which is is not a stretch for us. Because our university we have For over 50 employers that are housed at this university on our campus, that you look out some of our classrooms, for example, you look at one of our classrooms, and you will see the man, the engineering headquarters for air robots. And so you can go to class, you walk down the sidewalk, and you can get an internship, we have the Deloitte smart factory on campus. And it’s the only one in the United States. And we just had two business school students selected for their mentorship program. And so we have extracurriculars, we have athletics at this university, but we position ourselves if you’re serious about getting a job, and you’re ready to, to go go through some internships and, and really develop your skills. We, we can send you on your way. And so we’re very, we’re very pleased. And in the response we’ve gotten, we really just started our marketing function a few years ago, and we’re really trying to position ourselves as that, you know, you’re willing to work, we’re willing to help you. And we, we’ve seen a lot of response to that.

Shiro Hatori
Yeah, that’s, I mean, that’s really cool. I’m a slight aviation nerd, especially in my younger days, I can name every plane where it was built. You know, how how fast it flies. So that’s really cool that you have Airbus and these partnerships right. On campus. Super cool.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah.

Shiro Hatori
Speaking of partnerships, right, I know, we talked about in our prior call, one of the things you’re most proud of that you’ve done in your time with Wichita State, which is creating a program in international Lee tied program. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Yeah,

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
20 years ago, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, I was part of the founding of a program with the Berlin School of Economics and Law. And it’s a very, very unique program still. And what makes it unique is that instead of just taking our students to Berlin, and letting them look at companies and, and be tourists, we actually put our students in the Berlin School of the Berlin School of Economics and Law, we put them to work. And we pair up a couple of our students with a couple of their students, and this is at a graduate level program. And they they work throughout a US semester, so spring semester, on a consulting project for a company, either here in Winchester or a company in Berlin, that is internet are interested in internationalizing. And so this team of students have to figure that out, while experience what it’s like to work internationally with people that are seven hours different that have that are, English is not their native language, that they to have lives like any MBA student, many, most of them work like ours. And we, we’ve had over 500 students go through the program. And they say hands down, it was the most impactful experience they had in their educational career. And I’m so proud of it. We we’ve helped a lot of companies. But we’ve also helped a lot of students on both sides of the Atlantic. Really start to to refine or create those skills that are so important to the business environment that we all work in. Now. We’re not just in the US anymore, everybody is international, and so extremely proud of that program. And can’t believe it was 20 years ago.

Shiro Hatori
I actually really enjoyed this the story you share Around the or NATO or NATO fans fan.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Can you tell us a little bit about that as well, which is quite a entrepreneurial city, which goes home was home for two pizza. And pizza was created here, Beechcraft Cessna and a company called Vornado fans, and they are, they’re still around, you can buy them in a lot of places. And part of the program is we we take our US ditz students over to Berlin, and for a week and they meet their colleagues and in the companies, etc. Then in the end of the semester, the Berlin students come over here. And so I was with them when they visited, where NATO fan can see was one of their projects. And they started talking to the Vornado PR people and, and all of a sudden, higher level execs started coming into the room. And why they started coming into the room is that they were so curious, once they found out that, hey, there are German citizens in the building, they just wanted to talk to them and said, Why do you buy fans? And most importantly, why do you not? In the German students, it was like a focus group, it was so cool. And the German students basically said, number one, we can open a window, if it’s hot. Number two, we don’t like air blowing in our face. Why would you want that? And number three, they said, if we’re gonna buy a fan, it look better looked look cool, because we’re more interested in the art of the fan, then we are like an American, please make it cooler. And so I was there about a year ago. And there was still discussion going on. They had totally changed their philosophy as to how do we sell fans now that was many years ago, and they’ve been sold, etc. But it was it was just a such an indication of how a company can benefit from our students saying, Hey, this is what it’s like. And in just regular consumers or or regular mid level managers. And so it’s a fun, fun program. We’re running it as we speak. The German students will come over here first part of of April. And so proud of it so proud of that program.

Shiro Hatori
That’s incredible. And what a great example of like, getting to know your audience, right that you sell to yet from a marketing and business perspective. This is great. Well, thank you so much for sharing all that. It’s been delightful. I can feel your passion for business. And it’s, it’s it’s very engaging. I’m wondering where our listeners can connect with you outside of this podcast.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. Dorothy Hartlepool? Yes. It is Dorothy, Harpo and yes, I live in Kansas and the the Barden school is, we also have a LinkedIn page we have Instagram and Facebook. And so I would love for you to reach out and I’m at Dorothy dot her pool at which tom.edu

Shiro Hatori
Thank you. That’s fantastic. Thanks so much for joining today. Love the conversation.

Dotty (Dorothy) Harpool
Hopefully it’s my Okay. All right. All right. Bye bye.

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