By the Numbers: CoJMC Outperforms Despite Small Budget and Staff: Leads Campus in Recruitment, Retention and Graduation

Sunday, February 12, 2023 - 3:30pm

Despite being one of the smaller colleges on campus, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications has demonstrated remarkable operational efficiency, outpacing UNL colleges in several key areas of success. With a 16.3% growth in first-time freshmen and a retention rate of 87.7%, the CoJMC is setting the bar for student success. The college also boasts a four-year graduation rate of 61.6%, enrolled 4.8% of the student body, and produced 3.7% of student credit hours last year. Despite having the second smallest state-aided budget, second-fewest faculty and fewest staff per student credit hour produced, the CoJMC is making the most of its resources, delivering strong results while maintaining a lean operational structure. 

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications has demonstrated success in the fundamental metrics of recruitment, retention and graduation. In fall 2022, the college led the campus in incoming freshman recruitment, with a 16.3% increase over fall 2021. During the same period, the campus saw a decline in incoming freshmen of 2%.

The college’s retention rate of 87.7% is the highest on campus and 6.2% greater than the campus-wide retention rate of 81.5%. 

The college also has the highest four-year graduation rate at 61.6%. CoJMC’s graduation rate is 13.7% greater than the campus-wide graduation rate of 47.9%. 

In addition to leading the campus on student success, the college enrolls, educates and graduates a greater proportion of students than its budget or faculty size would suggest.

In fall 2021, CoJMC majors accounted for 4.9% of overall campus enrollment, enrolling more students than the Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, the College of Architecture and the College of Law. 

In AY21-22, the CoJMC majors accounted for 5.4% of all undergraduate and graduate degrees conferred by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

In AY 21-22, the campus produced a total of 566,683 student credit hours. CoJMC produced 3.7%, or 20,913 credit hours, more than the College of Architecture and the College of Law. 

Given the college’s success in recruitment, retention and graduation, we would expect that the size of the campus investment in the college and the number of individuals it employs would be approximate to the proportion of students it enrolls, educates and graduates. However, data demonstrates that both the size of the college’s budget and its number of employees are much smaller than its outcomes would suggest.

In fall 2021, the nine academic colleges employed a total of 4316.3 FTE across faculty, staff, administrators, other (primarily graduate assistants) and student workers. The college’s total FTE was 91.58, or 2.1% of the total. 

In FY 2022, the university of invested $267,119,812 in state-aided budget supporting the academic colleges. Just 2.56% ($6,851,342) of that investment was allocated to the CoJMC. 

It is clear that our college outperforms its size on every metric. An examination of our FTE and budget to the number of student credit hours we produce, clearly demonstrates that the college is one of the most operationally efficient units on campus.

Our overall FTE-to-SCH ratio demonstrates that we produce more SCH per employee than six other colleges.  Our FTE to SCH Ratio is 228.4 to 1, meaning for every 1 FTE, we produce 260.7 SCH. This is 136% greater than the campus average of 168.

While we have the third highest overall FTE-to-SCH ratio, an examination of ratios by employee group demonstrates that employees with the most direct impact on student success – faculty, staff and graduate assistants have even higher ratios to SCH.

Faculty include all faculty types, professors, professors of practice, lecturers and lecturer/ts. The average faculty-to-SCH ratio on campus is 401.2 to one. The college’s ratio of 515.4 is 128% greater than the campus average and the second-highest ratio among the academic colleges. 

CoJMC has the highest staff-to-SCH ratio on campus, meaning we have fewer staff per student credit hour produced than any other college. The average staff FTE-to-SCH ratio is 843.3 to one. Our college’s ratio is more than double this average at 1,742.8 to one. 

Administrative positions include those with an academic administrative role – deans, associate deans and department chairs. Our administrator-to-SCH ratio is the third highest on campus, at 6971, and 107% greater than the campus average of 6458 to one.  

Graduate assistants and post docs are grouped into other. These employees provide instructional capacity in many units on campus. Our college again holds the highest ratio on campus at 3557 to one for other employees compared to SCH, which is 2.7 times higher than the campus average of 1323 to one. 

Student workers are the only employee category where CoJMC’s ratio to student credit hour production is below the campus average. We employ one student worker for every 694 credit hours we produce, while the campus average is 1686 to one. Our high number of student workers is unsurprising given the extraordinarily low number of college staff reflected in our staff-to-SCH ratio. Our student workers oversee our front desk and manage the equipment room. They also serve as ambassadors, peer mentors, and student leads, which all directly impact student recruiting, retention and experiential learning.

On average, the university invests $527.01 in the academic colleges for every student credit hour produced. The College of Journalism and Mass Communication received the lowest level of investment on campus, receiving just $327.61 for every student credit hour. 

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications stands out as a leader in operational efficiency and student success. Despite having a smaller budget and fewer faculty and staff compared to other colleges on campus, the CoJMC has demonstrated remarkable growth in first-time freshman enrollment, high retention and graduation rates, and a greater proportion of student enrollment, education, and graduation compared to its resources. The college's FTE-to-SCH ratios, particularly for faculty, staff, and graduate assistants, are well above the campus average and demonstrate the college's commitment to delivering strong results with a lean operational structure. The College of Journalism and Mass Communications serves as a model for excellence in higher education and a testament to the impact that can be achieved through strategic resource management.