SUNY Potsdam's Joshua LaFave Studies Graduate Enrollment Management


SUNY Potsdam Director of Graduate Studies Joshua LaFave is studying how to improve enrollment management for advanced degree programming on a state and national level—and hopes to bring those lessons home to the Potsdam campus.

LaFave is working with his SUNY colleague, Christopher Connor, the assistant dean for graduate enrollment management services at the University at Buffalo, on a research project to create a comprehensive definition of graduate enrollment management (GEM), as well as a best practices model.

Specifically, they are examining the operational and strategic constructs that lead to improved efficiencies, budgetary maintenance, and an increased understanding of how to improve yet differentiate the graduate student experience on campus.

“Traditionally, operations and services at the graduate level on college and university campuses have been fractured,” Connor said. “Our main goal with this project is to establish a sound definition for GEM, based on the most current research of our profession. Hopefully, this will assist institutions in bridging the gap between the necessary operational and strategic aspects of the graduate enterprise and enable us all to become more cohesive and effective.”

LaFave chairs the research and global issues committee for the National Association for Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP), which Connor also serves on.

This project looks specifically at NAGAP members’ current roles and responsibilities, while analyzing structure, process and student experience. 

“What we are really seeing is a diversification of the GEM professional,” LaFave said.  “Providing a ‘one stop shop’ increases the perception of a differentiated student experience, and paves the way for stronger relationships with students from awareness to graduation and beyond.” 

LaFave and Connor hypothesize that today GEM is an interdependent model where there is some interdepartmental collaboration in support of the graduate student lifecycle.  However, with professionals supporting multiple phases of this lifecycle, an integrated interdependence model supports stronger relationships and a differentiated student experience on campus.

The research project is currently being conducted in multiple phases across the U.S. at various national and state NAGAP conferences. Preliminary research findings were also presented at the recent annual American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) conference in California.  They expect to complete their research and publish their findings in 2014.

In addition to his service for NAGAP, LaFave is also the president of NYGAP, the New York State Associate for Graduate Enrollment Management.

SUNY Potsdam’s graduate programs seek to encourage academic achievement and to provide each student with a sense of personal and social responsibility ,while giving the best possible preparation for specific professional and vocational goals.

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Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.