research and those for teaching. Some faculty salaries are partially paid with
fxjnds from specific project sources, but faculty are in no way required or
pressured to procure funds for their own support, as their contracts are based on
their total commitment to College activities, and primarily to teaching.
The College, through the operating budget, makes indirect contributions to
research by allocating funds for equipment within program budgets , and for such
necessary expenses as maintenance of the boats used in marine research. The
self-supporting Allied Whale offers whale and seabird watching trips to the
public to help fund its marine research.
Whale research in particular continues to be a major focus of marine sDody
at COA. Allied Whale, under the supervision of biologist Dr. Steven Katona,
coordinates whale census projects in the North Atlantic and maintains a
photographic inventory of humpback whale flukes and finback whale fins. This
inventory is used to trace the movements of individual whales as they migrate .
The College also participates in the Marine Mammal Stranding Network coordinated
by the New England Aquarium.
Since the establishment of a formal Cooperative Agreement with the National
Park Service on July 30, 1984, the College has increasingly been involved in
resource management projects in Acadia National Park. Through the Cooperative
Agreement, the College manages the peregrine falcon release program within the
Park and has initiated a major study of the Park's flora, including the cens\ising
and mapping of threatened or endangered plant species.
Other recent projects in the environmental sciences include acid
precipitation studies and studies of water quality in Somes Sound. Two faculty
menibers worked with the U.S. Forest Service and the Appalachian Motjntain Club in
gathering samples of coastal fog and water samples from various watersheds on
Mount Desert Island for use in a regional study of acid precipitation. Chemist
Dr. Donald Cass and oceanographer Dr. Carl Ketchum assessed water quality and
estuary flushing rates in Somes Sound as consultants for the Town of Mount
Desert. (A complete list of faculty research projects and recent publications may
be found in the Team Workroom.)
The fundamental objective of student services at College of the Atlantic is
to help students adjust to and make the most of their academic experience. While
we provide basic services in many areas, we also want to help students learn to
live independently within a community structure. Consequently, we hope to
provide a supportive framework in which students learn to resolve many of their
own problems. Student Services encompasses admissions, financial aid, housing,
orientation, records, social functions, career services, food service, student
morale, and academic advising.
The area of housing is a good example of how we try to strike a balance
between providing for all student needs and providing a support structure that
enables students to meet their needs themselves. The majority of students live
in off- campus housing, which they obtain through references from the College
Housing Office or through their own efforts. Locating housing, managing budgets,
dealing with landlords, and being good neighbors present challenges for students
who may be living away from the security of home and family for the first time.
These challenges offer an opportunity for personal growth and increased self-
confidence. The role of the Director of Housing becomes one of counsellor, real
estate agent, and sometimes mediator among house occupants or between tenants and
Student Services is staffed by several administrators, who work with various
committees. Admissions has been directed by Larry Clendenin; financial aid,
outdoor orientation, and housing are handled by Ted Koffman (after July, 1987,
financial aid responsibility will rest in the Admissions Office) ; Sally Crock is
Registrar in charge of records, registration, and scheduling; Jill Barlow-Kelley
coordinates the Office of Internship and Career Services; Pam Parvin is in charge
of Food Service. Pam Parvin and Don Cass share responsibility for the academic
advising process. Each year a team of faculty and staff members plans the
general orientation program.
A Student Affairs Conmittee (SAC) oversees all areas of student services and
consists of four student services personnel, one faculty member, and four
students. The conmittee 's function is to formulate and review policies affecting
student life, including student use of facilities and equipment, orientation,
advising, dining services, housing, and admissions; to make recommendations
regarding tuition and fees; to evaluate the services available; to sound out
student opinion and morale; and to help students effect desired changes in
connnunity policies. This year the committee conducted a research project
evaluating all aspects of student life, which will be discussed later in this
I . ADMISSIONS
Enrollment Development: Description and Appraisal
The goal of the enrollment development effort is to attract and retain
students who (1) want what COA has to offer academically; (2) are looking for a
college where they can play an active role in shaping their academic programs;
and (3) seek a small, working community where they can receive individual
attention and find outlets for self-expression and personal involvement. The
following profile of the student body has been prepared by the Registrar and the
Director of Admissions.
Enrollment Profile. Spring 1987
Total Headcount: 135 (includes 13
Degree Candidates Enrolled: 122 (39% entered as
Females: 73 (54%)
Males: 62 (46%)
21 and Under 59 (43%)
25 and under 111 (83%)
Over 25 22 (17%)
Geographic Origin: (based on headcount)
New England (including
Mid West , â– .
West â– i -â€¢'â– . ;'^V,:. :,^i''
Academic Data (Fall 1986 entering class)
Freshmen SAT scores (68% of freshmen reporting*)
Over 600 Math and Verbal** 20%
500-599 Math and Verbal 37%
400-499 Math and Verbal 40%
Under 400 Math and Verbal 3%
Mean Math 530
Mean Verbal 510
High School Rank (Freshmen, 87% reporting)
Top Decile 20%
Top Fifth 54%
Top Half 71%
Grade Point Average (Transfers, 87% reporting) 2.84
* Since submission of SAT scores is optional, we don't get 100% reporting.
** This means that the student scored over 600 on both the math portion of the
test and the verbal portion.
The Admissions Director strives to spread the responsibility for enrollment
growth among faculty and staff. This is accomplished through both the Admissions
Committee and the Student Affairs Committee, both of which involve faculty,
staff, and students. The Admissions Office also engages students, alumni,
faculty, and staff in the enrollment effort directly.
In Fall 1985 29 new stiidents entered the College and the fiscal FTE was 104.
If this trend had repeated itself in Fall '86 and '87, the survival of the
College would have been seriously at risk. That didn't happen. In fact, the
situation has reversed itself quite dramatically since then.
In Fall '86, 69 new students enrolled. Complemented by a greater share of
continuing student re -enrollments, fiscal FIE climbed to 123. Fall '87 looks at
least as bright. With a high number of continuing student re -enrollments and 70-
75 new students, fiscal FIE should climb to 145-150. With enrollment rising at
this rate, it is conceivable that the 200 enrollment threshold could be reached
in the next few years, should the College elect to grow this large.
Why had enrollment fallen off so drastically? First and foremost, the
Admissions Office had been engaged for several years in nontraditional
recruitment activities (especially magazine advertising) aimed primarily at
transfer students. This occurred at the expense of freshmen recruitment. In
fact, the College had quite seriously considered becoming an upper division
college exclusively. Second, there was no clear sense of prospective student
markets and where they were, either for transfers or freshmen. Third, no program
for school visits existed. Fourth, publications were out of touch with the
marketplace. Fifth, there were no field recrviiters. Sixth, financial aid awards
were insufficient (Fall '85 recipients had an average unmet need of $3,000).
Seventh, the Student Affairs Committee had been disbanded, leaving student life
concerns outside of the governance system. Eighth, alumni affairs had more or
less been put on hold.
Things are clearly inproving both in the present Admissions Office and
outside it. For instance (1) the admissions staff has been increased from one
professional to three, and a dangerously shrunken admissions budget has been
increased; (2) an alumni relations program is under way; (3) more current
students, faculty, and staff are directly involved with the recruitment of
students through open houses; (4) public relations for the College in general
have taken a great leap forward with the addition of a public relations director;
(5) advising is more tightly managed, especially for freshmen, under the close
supervision of advising coordinators; (6) the quality of student life is
receiving more attention; and (7) our financial aid program is substantially more
competitive. Without these kinds of internal movements, the Admissions Office
could not succeed.
Diversity in the student body is a goal of the Admissions Office.
Geographic diversity is a major objective. In 1986-87 54% of the student body
comes to COA from states outside of New England. We are trying to increase
Maine's share of the New England market to about 25%. Cunrently, Maine's share
stands at 20%. The Admissions Office is working to create tertiary markets in
states such as Illinois, Florida, and Colorado. To a lesser extent, similar
efforts are being made in Washington, Oregon, and California. Active
participation of the alumni will be essential to the development of these
markets. The College has always attracted a healthy mix of older and younger
students. Stronger promotion of the Visiting Student Program for students
enrolled at other colleges who wish to spend a term at COA will add further to
the population of experienced students. Many of these visitors elect to
matriculate at COA after visiting.
Enrollment Growth Projection
The first thing that must be said is that enrollment growth is a leading
priority of the College; the second is that a gradual and well-managed growth is
the objective; the third is that the College will not compromise its academic
standards or mission as a means of achieving growth. The plan is that enrollment
will grow by approximately 10% per year until an overall enrollment of 225
(headcount) students is achieved by the year 1990-91. A conservative enrollment
projection for the five-year period between 1986-87 and 1990-91 looks like this:
and 3rd level
Enrollment growth will be fueled by a continually increasing number of new
students and higher retention levels. Freshmen will account for 60-70% of each
entering class in the fall, thereby assuring that the size of second, third, and
fourth level classes will also be on the rise. Our primary means of increasing
the number of new students will be to increase the applicant pool of freshmen
from Maine, the mid- Atlantic region, and selected tertiary markets (in this
order). Between 1979 and 1985 the applicant pool dropped from an all-time high
of 145 to 70. For Fall 1987 we project that 150 applications will be received.
Conditions external to the College and outside of our control which could be
seen as impediments to enrollment growth include the following: (1) shrinking
numbers of high school graduates into the 1990s, especially in New England; (2)
loss of federal financial aid dollars and changing qualifying criteria; (3)
economic depression in parts of Maine; (4) increasing competition for high
quality students, especially those who can afford to pay a large share of their
educational costs; and (5) a continuing decline in interest among college
freshmen in cleaning up the environment. However, given that the College's share
of the market is so small and that it is investing now to assure a distinctive
and strong market position for itself in the years ahead, we see no reason why
enrollment cannot grow at the conservative rate we have projected, despite these
external conditions. We firmly believe that we can counter less than favorable
exterrial conditions by engaging in a concerted effort on several fronts -
admissions, development, and public relations - to increase the College's
visibility and, in turn, improve its position in the marketplace. The College's
involvement in the international dialogue on human ecology should pay off as long
as that discussion is eventually conducted in terms the uninitiated can
Some external conditions which we view as modestly favorable to enrollment
growth include the following: (1) increasing interest among high school students
in the field of education; (2) a steady increase in Maine tourism and in Bar
Harbor tourism in particular; (3) in-migration trends in Southern and Eastern
Maine; and (4) slightly more global interest in ecological matters.
What if the application pool in the years ahead does not increase to the
level necessary (approximately 300 applications) to produce the desired level of
new students? In this unlikely event the Admissions Office would implement the
following corrective steps: (1) increase the number of students contacted through
PSAT searches; (2) participate in more national college fairs; (3) inaugurate a
telephone response program directed at inquiries and conducted by faculty; (4)
undertake more road work on the part of the admissions staff; and (5) seek advice
from outside admissions professionals.
Inquiry Program: Description, Projection, Appraisal
The Admissions Office attracts applicants through a carefully designed
inquiry program, the goal of which is to encourage students who are seeking a
small school with an environmentally focussed arts and science curriculum,
located in a beautiful natural setting. Most students are asked to demonstrate
that their interest is serious by completing a self- selection process requiring
that they return cards from two separate mailings before receiving a catalogue
and application. Working with a smaller group of serious inquiries results in a
higher yield between inquiry and application.
Inquiries were generated through the following activities.
PSAT Spring Search : In 1986-87 about 10,000 soft inquiries led to 1,000
serious inquiries, all generated through this initial search of 30,000 high
school juniors. With the assistance of a direct mail firm, a well-focussed
search was conducted in 30 states. Students were targeted on the basis of
academic interest, test scores, and grade point average, among other parameters.
Our goal is to produce 15-20% of each year's entering class through searches,
compared to 10% in Fall '87.
ACT Search : We also experimented with an ACT search of 6,057, which yielded
69 serious inquiries and no applications. This is below our return rate from the
PSAT Search in terms of both serious inquiries and applications .
NACAC College Fairs : These larger national fairs, held both in the spring
and fall, are a valuable way of getting leads and talking with counsellors. Our
attendance at the Hartford fair is one reason that applications from Connecticut
are up. We will be attending 4-6 fairs in the fall and 2-4 in the spring. If we
could generate 20% of our inquiries and 5-10% of the application pool from fairs
we would be pleased.
Guide Books : Notices in Peterson's Guide . College Guide . Barron's , etc. ,
are another way of generating inquiries, and COA is listed in every major book.
Edward Fiske's Selective Guide to Colleges l^as proven to be especially good for
Catalogue Distribution : We mail 7,000-10,000 catalogues to high school
guidance offices, libraries, organizations, and colleges as a means of producing
Advertising : The Admissions Office engages in limited advertising in
newspapers such as the New York Times . and in magazines such as Natural History .
Mother Jones . Sierra , and Oceans . This generated about 10 serious inquiries for
Fall '87, primarily from transfer students.
A primary objective of our inquiry program is to encourage the serious
student to visit our campus. This helps the student and the College make the
best decision. The majority (70-80%) of our new matriculants in Fall '86 and '87
visited COA, either in the inquiry or application stage of the process.
The inquiry program appears to be working well, considering that the class
of new students entering in Fall '87 will come from a serious inquiry pool of
2,150, which is 47% smaller than the Fall '86 pool. Our targeting appears to be
A major goal for the years ahead will be steadily to increase the number of
serious transfer inquiries, foreign inquiries, and tertiary market inquiries. We
also hope to improve our targeting of productive freshmen markets.
Publications: Description, Appraisal, Projection
The goal of our publication program is to convey a strong sense of COA's
distinctiveness, while at the same time competing for students' attention in an
image -conscious world. We want our publications to be inclusive, not exclusive.
In other words, we want to invite a broad audience to take a look at the College.
In designing our publications we have sought the help of a professional design
firm. In some cases, we have tested design ideas on stvidents before employing
them in oxor publications.
The following materials are used by the Admissions Office:
Catalogue Mini Viewbook (green brochure) Student Life
Financial Aid Alumni Careers Visit the Campus
We also employ the COA News and a class profile of new students, which is
sent to counsellors . The application for admissions has also been redesigned and
plays a major role in solidifying the character of this institution.
Although our publications appear to be working favorably, they are still
lacking the clarity and effectiveness desired by the Admissions Director. The
design of the 1987-88 Catalogue will be essentially the same as in 1986-87, but
major sections will be rewritten and reorganized. The Mini Viewbook (green
brochure) will be redesigned for 1988-89, if not before. The Student Life
brochure will be continued as is. The Financial Aid brochure will be rewritten
and redesigned for 1987-88. The Alumni Careers brochure will be brought to life
in the spring of 1987 and used for a two-year period. The Visit brochure will be
sligihtly rewritten and redesigned as soon as current stock is depleted.
Inquiry Response System: Description, Appraisal, Projection
Supported by a laser printer, an IBM XT, and hard-working work-study
students, the Admissions Office is constantly entering names, updating entries,
and producing and mailing letters. In 1986-87 the office communicated with
10,000 individuals initially. From that pool 2,150 students received 4-6
separate mailings. The aim of the system is to spread information out over time
and to build a clear picture of the College, one feature at a tijne. CSee the
inquiry flow system available in the Admissions Office.) In many cases the
communication begins about eighteen months prior to matriculation. The points we
make about the College include the following:
All study is related to environmental or human ecological concerns.
Students are expected to roll up their sleeves and apply what they are
A tightly-knit, working community which allows for individual
involvement and personal expression awaits all students .
Our alumni have achieved success after graduation, both in careers and
in graduate education.
For Fall '87, the Admissions Office saw 7% of its serious inquiries (2,150)
become applications (150). In the future, we would like to see this return rate
improve to 10%.
COA utilizes a rolling admissions process with a recommended deadline of
April 1. Accepted sUidents are asked to pay a refundable tuition deposit by May
1, after which nonrefundable deposits are due within two weeks of acceptance.
The application is composed of a biographical form, three short-answer questions,
a personal essay, two teacher recommendations, a counsellor recommendation
(freshmen only), official transcripts, and a $20 fee. A personal interview is
Completed applications are reviewed by the Admissions Conmittee, which
includes faculty, students, and admissions officers. Each application is read by
several if not all members of the Committee prior to the meeting. Written
comments are recorded for each candidate and reviewed by the Admissions Director,
also prior to the meeting. In the Admissions Committee meeting each file is
discussed by tÂ±ie group as a whole and a final decision is reached.
We correspond with accepted students throughout the spring and fall by means
of newsletters and housing and registration materials. In addition, accepted
students are strongly encouraged to visit the College if they have not already
Incomplete applications are pursued by the admissions staff by means of
telephone communication and written correspondence, unless the applicant clearly
Travel: Description, Appraisal, Projection
Roadwork is an essential ingredient of the recruitment program. All members
of the admissions staff travel. The following events around the country are
reasons for initiating travel:
NACAC College Fairs Professional Development
School Visits Home Visits
College Days and Nights Meetings with High School
Alumni Receptions Prospective Student
Roadwork is selected after a careful determination of where we need to build
on existing markets and where we need to develop new markets.
The Admissions Office is engaged in a full range of traditional recruitment
activities this year. Approximately 150 applications will have been received by
September and 170 prospective students will have been hosted as overnight guests.
The staff visited 117 high schools, attended 39 college days and
nights, and participated in 7 national college fairs. The staff spent a total of
26 weeks (5-day weeks) in the field recruiting. Nine alumni events were held,
either in the field or on campus, requiring 2 weeks of travel. Three on- campus
open houses (tours) and 8 receptions in the field were sponsored by the office.
A total of 142 students attended these events .
As alumni clubs are formed, the admissions staff can rely more heavily on
COA graduates to cover recruitment activity in distant markets. However, much
training of alumni must take place first. Travel will be more carefully targeted
as the Admissions Office begins to develop feeder schools and counsellor support.
A Parents Association will be formed to help parents of prospective students
better understand the unique opportunities available at COA. Sligjitly more
travel will be directed at tertiary markets as a means of building interest
Alunmi Program: Description and Appraisal
The goal of the alumni program is to draw alumni closer to the College. Ve
believe that by so doing the long-term interests of both the alumni and the
College will be served. Our objective is to form alumni clubs around Che country
where major groupings of alumni are found and where such groupings are
coincidental to key markets for the Admissions Office . Cities targeted for
altanni clubs include:
Portland, ME Boston New York
Seattle Washington, D.C. Chicago
Philadelphia Los Angeles San Francisco
A second objective is to offer assistance to the Alumni Association through