Lauren Karch

Miami University’s Office of the President recently created a new position to bring together the elements revolving around financial aid and admission, naming John Skillings as special assistant to the president for enrollment management.

Previously, both the Office of Admission and the Office of Student Financial Aid reported to the university provost. Hodge said Skillings, a professor in the department of statistics, will now handle coordination between the two offices and will also chair the Steering Committee on Enrollment Management, a committee which researches enrollment management issues.

Skillings has served as department chair of the math and statistics department, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, interim provost and as vice provost. Hodge said Skillings’ depth of experience made him a qualified candidate for the new position.

“My primary role will be trying to bring focus to the variety of activities that relate to enrollment,” Skillings said.

Hodge said many universities now have an enrollment management officer due to the complexity of coordination between several university offices.

“We need to move toward a model where we have a professional enrollment management person to integrate all of these activities,” Hodge said.

Skillings said his short-term goals for the position also include analyzing research from the Admission Advisory Committee and a consultant for financial aid strategies.

“There are a variety of recommendations coming in,” Skillings said. “One of my first goals will be to look at all those reports and look at a variety of activities to bring in the next first-year class.”

By appointing a special assistant to the president for enrollment management, Hodge said he hopes to begin developing more permanent changes to the way enrollment management is handled.

While Skillings’ is the only new position created, the activities of admission and financial aid staff are expected to come together more smoothly.

“His appointment is really an intermediate step,” Hodge said. “We’ll be deciding the permanent structure that will determine the most effective way to bring all these pieces together.”

One reason for the decision to create the new position now, according to Hodge, involves transitions in the Office of the Provost.

Provost Jeffrey Herbst will be leaving after the 2009-10 year to take a position as president of Colgate University.

Hodge added recruiting new students is now increasingly complex.

“It’s become much more complicated and requires much more coordination than it ever has done before, and we really need to be on the top of our game,” Hodge said. “It isn’t just a question of working together well, it’s important that we work together progressively.”

Skillings said he hopes to develop more permanent enrollment goals in the long term. He said he looks forward to working with the admission and financial aid programs already in place.

“There are a lot of great things going on, on campus,” Skillings said.