Q & A with Joel Bauman
By Michael Scott
Joel Bauman is the new vice president for enrollment management. He has a distinguished record recruiting students in diverse settings that have included the Hebrew University, University of Tampa, and New School University in New York. Most recently, he served as dean of admissions and financial aid at New College of Florida, which is the honors college of the state university system and nationally recognized as one of the most innovative learning environments in the country. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News & World Report and has attended the Harvard University Admissions Institute.
One primary goal of the new Strategic Plan is for Westminster to become nationally recognized. To that end, the college is in the process of improving the way it manages the admissions and enrollment process. Joel Bauman, the new vice president for enrollment management, is leading this effort. We sat down with Joel to learn more about him, what the plans for admissions include, and his views on the future of Westminster.
What made you decide to come to Westminster?
I came to Westminster because I believe President Bassis has an ambitious vision and the college is going in an exciting direction. It's clear to me that all of the ingredients are here to be highly successful. The challenge is in making sure they are applied in the right way.
What are you doing to improve the way admissions are done at Westminster?
We are creating a whole new framework. There is going to be tighter interaction between the Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid, with both working collaboratively to become aware of any issues that may hinder a student's enrollment. We are working closely with the alumni and communications offices, and we will initially devote some significant resources to increasing our reach nationally. We are investing in strategies and software that will allow us to increase enrollment.
The biggest improvement is going to be in our prospect management system. Admissions recruiters will have geographic territories, making them more like managers than the counselors they have traditionally been. They will reach out to prospective students much earlier in the application process. We're talking as early as sophomore and junior years for high school students looking at undergraduate programs. Strategies for graduate programs will focus on active recruiting of businesses, employers, etc. In fact, we've brought in a new assistant director of graduate programs to help facilitate this.
We will be creating one-year, three-year, and five-year enrollment plans. We're still working on the final strategies, but we know those strategies will be based on research data. If we don't have all the data we need, then we'll create systems to gather and analyze data. On the basis of those plans we're expecting the modest enrollment growth called for in the Strategic Plan in the next five years.
What about financial aid?
We are going to continue working hard at communicating with prospective students about the value of attending Westminster as it relates to the cost. (Westminster has been named one of the best values by U.S. News and World Report for nine straight years.) We will also be much more aggressive with scholarship and financial aid outreach. We've historically been very successful helping students meet the costs of a Westminster education; this is an untold story that we are going to start telling. Approximately 80% of our students receive some form of financial aid.
How do these changes fit with the Strategic Plan?
One of the key aspects of the plan is to give voice to individual students. We are going to focus on that. In the new plan everything will be oriented to meet new goals we have set. We want a diverse student body in every sense, meaning socially, politically, and economically.
The goal of any enrollment operation is to have an entering class that is a perfect fit for the type of educational experience the school offers. We're aiming for a more diverse class, with more out-of-state students. And we want in-state students who come here for the unique educational experience only Westminster can provide. We need to identify these students as early and as cost-efficiently in the application process as possible.
What role do alumni play in this new strategy?
Alumni will play a significant role. They are the very best evidence we can give a prospective student about what a Westminster education can offer. The territory managers will be contacting alumni to ask for their help in spreading the word about Westminster and the Westminster community. We'll contact alumni who are interested in finding bright ambitious students who are interested in Westminster.
What can alumni do to help Westminster's admissions efforts?
The immediate thing alums can do to help is to let us know who you are and what you are doing, either by emailing or calling the alumni office. As I said, alumni will be central to our recruitment efforts. We need to know where they are living and working, so we can call on them to help. We are also going to send a survey to alums in the near future asking for permission to reach out and ask for help of the alumni and for testimonials we can use in our new admissions publications. There are many exciting changes here, and I hope alumni will be excited to take part.
Joel Bauman can be contacted by calling 801-832-2200 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org