University Announces New Vice President for Enrollment Management & Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

In email messages to the campus community on Wednesday, April 1st, President Donald Christian provided the following updates regarding the Vice President for Enrollment Management search process:

Dear Members of the Campus Community,I am pleased to announce that Jeffrey D. Gant, director of undergraduate admissions at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, with a diverse student enrollment of more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students, will join us on Jan. 1, 2021, as our new vice president for enrollment management.   We look forward to benefitting from his proven creativity and successful innovative projects, his data-driven and outcome-focused decision making, his enthusiasm and positive energy, his moving expression of the value of a liberal arts education in his life and career, and his ability to connect, collaborate with and lead others.   With nearly all of us working remotely during the coronavirus disruption, it would be unfair to invite a new college leader to join us to learn about our campus and SUNY while remotely building relationships essential to their success and our campus’s continuing success and adaptation in a changing world. This is a time for stability and continuity, even as we look forward to the creativity that a new leader like Mr. Gant will bring.  Montclair State, like other institutions, is wrestling with the same issues and welcomed Mr. Gant’s continued leadership there during this difficult time.  In that context, I am grateful that David Eaton has agreed to my request to remain in his current position through Dec. 31, 2020 and that Linda Eaton has also agreed to my request to remain as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (in consultation with Vice President Stephanie Blaisdell) until then. David has generously agreed to work with Mr. Gant in the remaining months of 2020 to ensure a smooth transition. Linda will continue in her position supporting and advising the planned reorganization within Student Affairs.   New Vice President for Enrollment Management AppointedAs vice president for enrollment management, Mr. Gant will supervise the 76-member enrollment management division, with eight departments including Freshman and International Undergraduate Admissions, Transfer Admissions, Financial Aid, Records and Registration, Student Accounts, the Center for Student Success (which includes Academic Advising), the Scholars Mentorship Program and the Office of Veteran and Military Services.   Mr. Gant will also serve as chief enrollment officer for the College, responsible for all aspects of the enrollment process from recruitment and enrollment to revenue collection and certification for degree conferral.   Reporting to the President, Mr. Gant will serve on the President’s Cabinet and will collaborate with others to achieve divisional and institutional goals and advance our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. He will fulfill a key role in college-wide matters (including strategic planning), participate in system-wide enrollment initiatives and planning, represent the College to appropriate external bodies, and perform other duties assigned by the President.  At Montclair State, Mr. Gant supervises a staff of 27 professionals and 100 student workers, and manages an operating budget of $2 million and a scholarship budget of $2 million.   He regularly attends Cabinet-level meetings to present enrollment strategies and data, earn buy-in from Cabinet for his plans and initiatives, provide counsel on enrollment matters and carry out presidential and vice-presidential directives.   He created and leads the Hispanic Student College Institute, a program that brings 200 Hispanic students to campus for a three-day workshop promoting a college-bound culture and providing preparatory experiences, part of a strategic enrollment initiative to increase the number of Hispanic students at the University. Montclair State is designated a Hispanic-serving institution and has an undergraduate student population that is 29% Hispanic and 13% Black.  Some successes during his tenure include:   

  • Achieved the 2015 freshman deposit and enrollment goal ahead of schedule while decreasing the acceptance rate by 8% and increasing the average GPA of deposited students from prior year.
  • Increased out-of-state student enrollment by 18%. 
  • Created and pitched the Montclair State 2+2 Program, a unique transfer enrollment agreement aimed at diversifying enrollment pipelines and creating strategic partnerships. Currently, five partner schools have signed on.
  • Working with Graduate Programs and Admissions, built a cohort model for first-year students enrolling in five-year Bachelors/Masters programs that led to high retention/completion rates.
  • Through strategic planning and human resource optimization, increased recruitment by 25% without adding staff. This led to a 169% increase in student inquires for the fall 2016 application cycle.
  • Oversaw the two largest Accepted Student Days in the University’s history, which resulted in the most deposits ever collected during a conversion event. Ran the events at a $73,000 cost savings.
  • Led the Office of Undergraduate Admissions through a major enterprise system conversion. Led change management and training initiatives for office staff. Guided policy decisions and successfully advocated for critical resources.

A second message followed, this time from Vice President for Student Affairs Stephanie Blaisdell, informing the community about the status of the search for an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs:

After a national search that garnered over 100 applications, I am very pleased that our successful candidate for the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs is our own Michael Patterson, currently the Director of Student Activities and Union Services.  Mike brings 18 years of Student Affairs experience, from both SUNY New Paltz and from Monmouth University in New Jersey.  He is ABD for his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration through Northeastern University with plans to defend his dissertation this year.  Mike has a demonstrated history of supporting student engagement and a sense of belongingness, innovative programming and problem solving, and a commitment to assessment and continuous improvement.  Mike will serve as the Director for the Center for Student Engagement when it is formed on July 1, 2020 and will transition to the Assistant Vice President role on January 1, 2021.  

As indicated in President Christian’s message, Linda Eaton has agreed to stay on as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs until December 31, 2020.  I appreciate Linda’s commitment to the institution at this uncertain time.  Linda’s extended service provides continuity to those areas under her purview, while providing an opportunity to enact most of a planned reorganization for Student Affairs. 

The Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs is a modified position that will oversee the new Center for Student Engagement, Residence Life, Student Association and the Center for Student Media.  The newly formed Center for Student Engagement will be responsible for orientation, new student programs, leadership development, sororities and fraternities, civic and community service, intercultural relations, and student union programming and operations. 

The Center for Student Development and Student Activities and Union Services will be dissolved, with staff from those departments moving to the Center for Student Engagement, along with Erica Wagner, Service Learning Coordinator from the Career Resource Center.  An announcement with details regarding staffing for the Center will be sent later this spring.  Michelle Combs, Director of the Center for Student Development, will become the new Director of Student Conduct, reporting to Robin Cohen-La Valle.  Robin’s title will change to Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students and in addition to supervising Student Conduct she will continue to oversee the Disability Resource Center, with added responsibility for the Student Health Center and the Psychological Counseling Center. The Career Resource Center will report directly to me.  These changes will take effect July 1, 2020.   

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