By Molly Igoe
Lorna Hunter has only been at Washington College for a few weeks, she has still made some time to get out and enjoy Chestertown.
“I think Chestertown is a lovely town, there are some shops and art galleries that I want to pop in to,” she said. “There seems to be a lot that’s coming out for September and October that my husband and I would like to try and get involved in. It looks like a really nice small town.”
Hunter began her new role as vice president of enrollment management on Aug. 15.
President Kurt Landgraf issued the following statement about her: “Lorna Hunter has a proven record of enrollment success, and she understands WC’s student-focused approach. I am thrilled to welcome her to our community. Her array of skills and the range of experience she brings to the critical job of leading our enrollment, admissions, and financial aid teams are just outstanding.”
“I do very much enjoy working with students, and bringing students and quality education together. I’ve been doing that for a long time,” she said.
Most recently, she served in the same position for four years at The College of Idaho, which, according to Hunter, is very similar to WC. Before that, she spent 11 years at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. According to a WC press release, “she grew applications by 48 percent, attained a 29 percent increase in the entering class, and increased enrollment of students of color by 10 percent.”
Hunter has worked in the admissions department at various schools, including at Lehigh University as dean of admissions and financial aid; Dartmouth College as associate director of admissions and director of minority recruitment; and University of Pennsylvania as assistant director of admissions. In all of these roles, she increased overall applications and helped craft effective enrollment strategies, according to a WC press release.
The East Coast, Hunter said, is really home for her, which is partly what drew her to WC.
“Now I’m returning back home closer to family. WC is a great college. I love the emphasis on history, on the environment, on using the academic process for understanding one another’s differences and challenges,” she said.
“I very much appreciate the whole liberal arts experience, the critical thinking skills, what students learn here to be really productive citizens…That kind of history of the College, and being a citizen and preparing for citizenship all resonate deeply with me,” she said.
Enrollment for this year’s freshmen class is 400 students, down 12 from last year. Enrollment management, Hunter said, has become more technical over the years. Her main goal coming in to this position is to stabilize enrollment and bring a diverse perspective.
Hunter said, “Certainly, the goals of enrollment managers always include increasing enrollment, keeping the quality of students at a stable level, and bringing a mix of students into the environment that allows a liberal arts experience to happen, because it can’t happen in a vacuum.”
One strategy for stabilizing enrollment is to “introduce your story early to students, not waiting until they’re seniors to say, ‘Hi, we’re WC, and this is what we have to offer.’”
She said, “I want to see a communications stream across classes so that when you’re starting to look for the fall of 2019, you’re not starting from scratch; you’ve already been talking to these students for the last couple of years. The liberal arts are not always easy to explain, and it takes more than a minute to explain it.”