Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




retention, enrolment management, student success, change, higher education, leadership, dual operating system


As competition for students and scarce resources increases due to political and economic pressures, awareness and coordination of student retention and completion become a critical priority for post-secondary institutions. However, despite increased attention on Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) (Black, 2010; Gottheil & Smith, 2011; Hossler & Bontrager, 2015; Wilkinson et al., 2007) and the growth of retention-focused student services in recent years, retention rates remain unchanged (Habley, Bloom, & Robbins, 2012). Post-secondary students are in the midst of a significant transition period (Tinto, 1993) and face challenges related to mental health and wellness, relationships, rigors of academic life, and personal finances (Braxton, Hirschy, & McClendon, 2006; Tinto, 1993). Furthermore, complex institutional structures are increasingly difficult for students to navigate (Karp, 2011) and are not designed around the needs of Generation Z learners (Seemiller & Grace, 2016). This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) describes a “whole-system” solution to the problem that sorts, connects, supports, and transforms students while also transforming the institution (Beatty-Guenter, 1994). This plan describes how the higher education registrar is uniquely positioned within the organization to lead change (Duklas, 2014; Waters & Hightower, 2016) and identifies a compatible systems approach to leadership (Coffey, 2010; Senge, Hamilton, & Kania, 2015) that may be employed. To accelerate and sustain change so that it becomes embedded within organizational culture (Kotter, 2014), key stakeholders representing multiple campus subsystems (Kalsbeek, 2006a, 2006b, 2007) are engaged throughout the process.