June 15, 2010

John Nicklow to lead Enrollment Management

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Enrollment Management is now under the leadership of John W. Nicklow.

Nicklow has been a faculty member in the College of Engineering for 12 years, the last three as associate dean. Chancellor Rita Cheng announced his appointment as interim assistant provost today (June 15).

“John is passionate about SIUC and about our students,” she said. “He brings excellent leadership skills and a solid record of success in student recruitment and retention in the College of Engineering to this highly critical position.”

The appointment requires ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees.

Nicklow earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. He earned a doctoral degree in civil engineering from Arizona State University in 1998, the same year he joined SIUC’s College of Engineering as an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering. He became an associate professor in 2003, served as acting chair of his department in 2005, and began serving as interim associate dean in 2006. He was promoted to professor and became permanent associate dean in 2007.

The Department of Enrollment Management includes Undergraduate Admissions, New Student Programs, Records and Registration and Financial Aid. In his new role, Nicklow reports to Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor Don S. Rice, who said Nicklow has “very, very high” academic and administrative standing.

Nicklow “has long been involved in student recruitment and retention at SIUC and can speak from that experience easily,” Rice said.

“He is just an all-around solid individual as an academician and an administrator,” Rice added. “He brings not only the interest in the recruitment and retention piece, but because he is from the academic side of the house, he will be able to build synergies with the colleges and the deans.”

For his part, Nicklow is “excited for the opportunity to contribute to our progress.”

“I see this as a challenge but I’m excited when I am challenged in this way,” he said. “I really believe students are the lifeblood of the University, they are why we are here. Each and every one of our students is a unique and valued member of this community, and they have a role to play. Our job is to help them realize that role and nurture their success. I want every one of them to realize their full potential. That is really why I accepted this job, because I believe I can do that in a more thorough and comprehensive way.”

There initially will be a transition period as Nicklow becomes familiar with the people in Enrollment Management.

“Teamwork is a very important part of this equation,” he said. “There are things we can capitalize on with our existing staff. There are good people in place; it will be a matter of utilizing their skills and knowledge in new and different ways.”

He envisions “aggressive recruitment strategies” that will include building on the success of Saluki First Year and Saluki Cares. Saluki First Year helps smooth the transition to the University for first-year students. Saluki Cares connects students with campus resources to help them manage any challenges they may be facing, academic or otherwise.

Nicklow wants Enrollment Management to develop “a strong synergy” with Saluki First Year.

“Increasing opportunities for engagement with students has to be one of our focus areas,” Nicklow said. “We have some good programs started, such as Saluki First Year, where we really have done a good job with programming and developing seminars, with letting students know that they are part of this community.”

Those efforts, and others, “help students feel they are part of something.”

“That can help anybody be successful, when you make them part of a team,” he said. “It’s when they feel left out or alone, that’s when we need to intervene before potential problems occur. Retention continues to be an untapped opportunity. If we can dramatically affect retention and success rates, we will have a major impact.”

That has been the case in the College of Engineering in recent years. Between 1997 and 2004, the average first- and second-year retention rates were 64 and 70 percent, respectively. Following two years of implementing approaches that include mentoring and an engineering residential college, the retention rate of first-year students rose to 74.3 percent and the retention rate among second-year students rose to 77.5 percent.

“It’s all about making a connection and establishing a positive peer network,” Nicklow said. “In the same way peer pressure can work as a negative, it can work as a positive. We talk often about athletic teams and business teams. That’s all we have been trying to do in the college, establish a strong community of learners who rely on one another. When one student isn’t doing well, somebody else is there to give them a pat on the back, to tell them they can do the work.”

Nicklow likes to share an anecdote to illustrate his view of the University.

“When I came to this University, I told my wife we’d be gone in two years, that this was a stepping stone,” he said. “That was 12 years ago. I’ve developed a passion for Southern. Few institutions offer the balance we have here between teaching and learning, and research opportunities. This is a great University with a beautiful, welcoming campus and one that offers individual access to and attention from faculty. We need to tell that story often to students because we can develop that passion in them.”