Official admissions director to be chosen
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 05:05
University officials will soon choose the next admissions director after the three finalists visited campus in the past few weeks.
Peggy Bottorff, the university’s associate provost, stated in an email message that the search committee, senior administrators and other stakeholders will provide input into the decision, which she hopes will be finalized in “the coming weeks.”
She said the committee was impressed with the three top candidates who visited the university at the end of April and earlier this month to meet with faculty and make a public presentation, which involved a prepared speech and a question and answer session. Each visit lasted three days and the candidates met with various faculty, staff and student employees at the university’s Office of Admissions Undergraduate Admissions.
“We are very pleased with the talented finalists and their interest in the position and preparation for their visits to campus,” Bottorff said.
The candidates included Jose Aviles, director of admissions at Millersville University, Leon Braswell, director of admission and financial aid at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Dale Bittinger, director of undergraduate admissions and orientation at University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Bittinger spoke to faculty and students Wednesday in Gore Hall about increasing diversity, partnerships and how to effectively treat students.
To increase diversity, he said it is important to start a conversation about the issue. At his current job, to increase the Hispanic population, the office created a Hispanic and Latino Admissions Advisory Council. He said the admissions office would host a reception for those students off-campus, but through discussions during the council meeting, realized an on-campus overnight session would be more effective.
Bittinger said he relies on listening to other people’s perspectives to make decisions and this helped to improve outreach to Hispanic students.
“Part of the job it’s relationship-building, getting to know the campus community,” he said.
He said at his previous school, there was a multicultural recruitment chair, which was a problem in itself. The job has been eliminated because every admissions officer should be committed to recruiting a variety of students, he said.
Bittinger said his goal is for students to be “community learners” who are involved in school activities. He said it is important to acclimate students before they matriculate to increase their chances of success.
At UMBC, his office creates public service announcements to inform prospective students about the school. There are also “Just for Juniors” days where students can learn about majors before they enroll so they have a better understanding of what they want to study.
There is a perception that it is more difficult for in-state students to be accepted into the university, even though the opposite is true, Bittinger said. He is studying access for rural high school students for his doctorate degree and said he is interested in targeting more students from southern Delaware.
He said it is also important to have a proportionate number of in-state and out-of-state students because they bring different perspectives to the university.
He said while he understands the value in international students, they have to be selected carefully. Bittinger has recruited in China, but said he does not bring students to UMBC just because it is a “cash cow.” He said the Saudi Arabian government pays for some students to attend UMBC, and Bittinger said some of them are not as invested as other students.
“It’s a very different student experience when you’re coming and the government’s paying for it,” he said.
Bittinger said he believes in giving students with financial need enough money so they can attend the university for the full four years. Yet, he said it is important to allocate resources efficiently and offer only the amount the student needs. He recalled that there were students at UMBC who were profiting from the school through full-ride scholarships and financial assistance.
He said he disapproves of using “back-door ways” to admit students with lower grades or SAT scores, by admitting them for spring or accepting them to alternate campuses, so their statistics are not included in the annual report. He said the reports at UMBC are “unadulterated.”
When Bottorff asked about his most fulfilling day, Bittinger said it was when a student from Virginia, who Bittinger thought was a perfect fit for UMBC, decided to enroll after being unsure. He is used to working “crazy hours,” but does it because he enjoys building relationships with students.