Ahmed Tolba Outlines Four Goals to Enhance the Student Experience
In his new role as associate provost for strategic enrollment management, Ahmed Tolba has a vision that is wholly centered on the student experience.
Tolba has four primary goals: integrate the offices under his purview and align processes from a student perspective; be data-driven; increase diversity; and focus on implementation. However, throughout all of these wide-ranging plans, what remains consistent is Tolba’s belief that “we cannot work in isolation, but we have to work in coordination with the students.”
Integrate And Align
In the most recently updated structure, five offices -- from recruitment and enrollment to career advising -- are under the associate provost’s management and are all working together to emphasize student interests. These include the Office of Enrollment, Admissions and Student Service Center; Office of the Registrar; Career Center; Office of International Programs and the Office of Strategic Academic Services.
“We are now looking at things from a different perspective,” said Tolba. “These offices all used to be under different leaderships. Now, we are trying to streamline this from the perspective of the student experience.”
“We want to manage the student journey from admission to graduation,” added Tolba. “Of course, we do not own this journey, but we can support it and work on the business processes that help it. One of the things that we have done immediately is form a leadership team with the directors of the different offices to meet often and figure out the synergies that can be created to prioritize activities that most impact the student experiences and success.”
Tolba knows that the best way to implement important changes is by effectively and efficiently collecting data and taking swift actions based on this new information.
“Our main focus is to coordinate with the Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research (DAIR) and all the respective academic units to make sure that the data is accurate and understood, and to turn this data into reports for decision makers,” noted Tolba. “By doing this, we can help them make the right decisions at the right time. A timely manner is critical so students don’t suffer in the meantime.”
Recruitment and Diversity
A key component of this data is the demographics of diversity. From Tolba’s perspective, there are three key types of diversity: by governorate, by type of high school diploma and by nation. While he noted that their processes are still in the data-analysis stage, he aims to have an action plan for increased diversity by the next academic year.
Scholarships and outreach are both crucial aspects for recruiting students from a variety of high schools, governorates and even nations, explained Tolba. He is confident that by focusing on these three components, other types of diversity will follow. Regarding international enrollment specifically, Tolba cited a need to further identify countries that might see AUC as a top University, both for its excellent education and relative affordability in comparison to Europe and the United States.
Despite this focus on data, however, Tolba emphasized, “We want to make AUC more of an international, intercultural experience overall, rather than just focusing on numbers.”
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Tolba –– who is also associate professor of marketing and has a business and management background that influences his work as associate provost –– emphasized the importance of getting things done.
“I’m not a big fan of just talking about strategy,” he said. “I would rather have three projects well-implemented to the end with results than just having many ideas everywhere that don’t actually get done. From a business perspective, I believe in being results-oriented. Planning shouldn’t just be strategic top line, but rather, we need to dig deep into the details and aim for effective implementation, with direct impact on our students.”
Moreover, once a change or project is implemented, Tolba noted the importance of immediately communicating it to the relevant parties. “We need to have timely, accurate communication," he said. "We also need to be realistic. For example, if students don’t read the portal, we shouldn’t punish them, but rather understand the reasons why they don’t and find better ways to reach them.”