By Amy Rudolph
Elm Staff Writer
Washington College confirmed on Feb. 24 that Daniel Forster, vice president of enrollment management, will be stepping down from his position on April 14. Forster joined the Admissions staff in late September and has headed the search for the incoming Class of 2021. Forster’s departure, which he described as a “quick turn around,” is due to separation from his family in Massachusetts.
Forster and his family initially planned to relocate to Maryland in the spring but, “it would be a tough transition for them and for me to keep commuting back every weekend,” said Forster.
“Life happened… it was too much to balance my family needs with my professional needs, and when those are opposing each other, for me it was family,” he said.
Forster said that he loves it at WC, but the distance was too much. “What I told the president [President Sheila Bair] was, ‘If this school were 300 miles closer to my family I don’t think I’d ever leave. You’d have to get rid of me. I would never leave of my own volition.’”
While there are benefits to returning home to his family in Massachusetts, there is still much that Forster will miss here, including the people.
“I really love it here. The people and the faculty are really special, they are committed to the community so in that sense, they really care. Also, the enrollment staff, they’re really good people and I regret not being able to keep working with them because they work really hard to bring in the class.”
He will also miss working with President Bair.
“I think the thing I will really miss most is my work with Sheila. She has done these four initiatives over the last year — I come from a financial aid background so this FixedFor4, the Savers’ Scholarship, George’s Brigade, and Dam the Debt, those four things are really interesting. A lot of college presidents don’t think about elevating that debt and making it easier for students to pay and if they do, they think about it in a very traditional way. She’s thinking outside the box and looking at other ways to approach this. You have a unique leader here who is connected to the outside world.”
With Forster’s resignation, the College has begun to look for someone to fill his shoes.
In a statement to The Elm, President Bair said, “The College has retained a search firm that will prioritize to fill the position. We may also consider an interim leader through The Registry, which places interim leaders in higher education institutions from a pool of experienced former college executives.”
In a final comment about Forster and his work for the College, President Bair said, “I thank Dan for the contributions he has made during his time here, and I know he will be working hard to bring in the fall class before he leaves. I am very proud of our staff in enrollment management and he was a good member of that team. The College wishes him our very best.”
Forster will move back to Massachusetts, and has accepted a job at Westfield State University, his alma mater. He will retain the same title, Vice President of enrollment management, while working at Westfield.
According to an article on MassLive, an online publication, Westfield State President Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha said, “Among a very impressive candidate pool, Dan’s experience, skill set and ability to easily engage with all campus groups stood out, making him the natural selection for our next Vice President for Enrollment Management.” Forster is returning home and returning to his roots as he worked at Westfield “as [their] assistant director of Student Administrative Services from 1997 to 2002.”
Forster is happy to be able to spend time with his family in his future role at Westfield State.
“I’m going back to be with my family seven days a week rather than three…that’s really what I’m looking forward to.”
With the incoming freshman class arriving in a few short months, the Office of Admissions has a lot of work left to do. The College has doubled their efforts, and Forster is sure that someone will end up filling his position.
“This is an attractive position. This is a great school, so I would say upfront that they will find a lot of people interested in this role, just like I was interested in this role, so interested that I came down from Massachusetts to do this,” said Forster. “If they don’t [quickly find a replacement], Sheila is a great manager and will have a plan B for supporting the staff that it is in place and moving forward with the strategy.”
Forster said that WC is looking at about 430 students for the incoming Class of 2021. In recruiting this class, Forster and Admissions had to look at many different aspects to ensure that “the class that we enroll has the right academic profile, that we are hitting our numbers in terms of size and that it is diverse, both regionally and in every sense of the word.”
“[We want to]make sure that the students here persist and that they want to stay,” he said.
By Amy Rudolph