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K-State Today

December 3, 2021

SEM update: Transitioning to Slate as our universitywide recruitment and admission CRM

Submitted by Chuck Taber and Thomas Lane

Dear Colleagues, 

A critical priority of our university Strategic Enrollment Management, or SEM, Plan is a robust customer relationship management, or CRM, system to support undergraduate and graduate enrollment across all of our campuses. Tremendous progress has been made, thanks to the hard work of the IT and Enrollment Management CRM team and many others across the university who implemented our Target X/Salesforce CRM, purchased in 2019. Along with that work came lessons learned. Today we are announcing a transition to Slate as the CRM technology that best meets our recruitment and admission needs at this time.

As we have continued to evolve and become more mature in our work since 2019, we have a better understanding of our enrollment management business needs and the costs of various solutions. It is clear we also need to accelerate progress on the CRM as we implement best practices and scale implementation for both undergraduate and graduate recruitment and admissions. With Slate, we will have an affordable tool that will allow us to scale without limitations and be nimble in response to today's market.

As the only CRM solution that is purpose-built to fully handle the evolving needs of modern enrollment management and student success, Slate is a leader in the higher education market and the number one CRM for higher education in the nation, serving more than 1,600 colleges and universities. Currently, 82% of the Association of Chief Admissions Offices of Public Universities surveyed use Slate as their CRM, including 100% of the SEC, 60% of the Big 12, and 70% of the Big 10 schools. Both KU and Wichita State are using Slate. This speaks to the high level of satisfaction enrollment professionals have with Slate. 

Slate is a comprehensive, completely integrated solution for all aspects of the university admissions process with an all-inclusive feature set. It offers the ability to quickly adapt to market changes as needed. New features or releases are included as part of the existing contract. The product comes with a pre-developed integrations library with common third-party vendors for expedited implementation. Examples include the Common App, ACT, SAT, Niche, CEEB Codes, and more. It also comes with pre-developed templates custom-designed for best practices in higher education. Customized development does not require SQL or other coding/IT expertise, allowing the university to free up IT resources to be dedicated to other needs long term. Slate will allow us to move more quickly to additional implementations for K-State Salina and the Graduate School once we complete a customized application for undergraduate admissions and transition undergraduate recruitment and communications for the Manhattan campus over the next year.

From the student lens, Slate provides a seamless and smooth experience for students throughout the admissions funnel. This means it offers a high level of self-service similar to the Amazon experience for tasks such as managing checklists/fees; changing mail and email addresses, uploading documents, registering for events, or printing admit letters because all the items a student needs are stored in one system.

Slate offers a more affordable and predictable budget structure. Because it is priced as a flat rate with unlimited licensing, it will allow us to scale and determine usability based on business needs rather than considering technology limitations. Unlimited licensing and availability to the colleges, campuses, and Graduate School is consistent with our decentralized nature of recruiting and can broaden engagement with the CRM across the university.

There will also be some cost savings over the longer term for the university CRM technology supporting enrollment, allowing savings to be redeployed to other enrollment management needs. We are using philanthropic funds to support Slate over the next two years while we complete the current contract with Target X/Salesforce, meaning the purchase will require no additional university investment for FY 22 through FY 24. By moving to Slate, the university will save approximately $200k annually given the additional investments needed for Target X/Salesforce to achieve similar enrollment management capabilities. 

Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management, or EM, serves as the overall manager for the university enrollment management CRM. We have asked her to work with Jan Elsasser, deputy CIO for business intelligence, analytics, and enterprise applications, and the EM and IT CRM teams to develop a high-level project plan in the coming weeks that lays out key milestones, deliverables, and a timeline for accelerating development of our recruitment and admissions CRM capabilities.

To be successful, this transition will require broad stakeholder engagement as plans are developed to move forward and a strong communication plan will be essential. The priorities will be to first develop a customized application for undergraduate admissions, followed by the transition of recruitment and communications for the Manhattan campus to Slate, then expansion to include K-State Salina and the Graduate School. There will be a transition period over the next year or so during which we will need to work with both the Target X/Salesforce and Slate systems in much the same way we did when moving from Talisma.

We want to thank everyone across the university who has invested hard work, energy, and expertise to making a robust recruitment and admissions CRM a reality for K-State. We look forward to the continued transformation of our enrollment processes supported by outstanding technology. 


Chuck Taber
Provost and executive vice president 

Thomas Lane
Vice president for student life and dean of students