The University of Dallas was the setting for a recent conference of Catholic admissions officers seeking ways to better collaborate and promote best practices that strengthen the Catholic identity of their institutions.
The three-day conference ran from June 2-4 and was co-sponsored by The Cardinal Newman Society and the University of Dallas (UD). The conference featured several talks from leaders in Catholic higher education on the admissions process as seen through the lens of strong Catholic identity.
“The admissions officers from many Catholic colleges have been meeting regularly via our conference calls for several years, but this is the first time that they were able to meet in person,” said Bob Laird, the director of programs for the Society.
After welcoming remarks by Thomas Keefe, president of UD, and Dr. John Plotts, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs, history professor Dr. Susan Hanssen delivered the keynote address on “Articulating the Catholic Intellectual and Moral Tradition.”
Hanssen acknowledged that Catholic college admissions directors are “the most important people in higher education today. The colleges that you are working at are by and large dependent upon tuition.”
The admissions staff, she continued, are the “first educators at a university.” They are the first ones to tell the parents about the curriculum. “What you are doing is enlivening the market…educating the market into existence.”
Other presentations included “Marketing the Value of a Liberal Arts Education” by Robert Heil, senior vice president at RuffaloCODY, and “A Sound Communications Plan as an Effective Recruiting Tool” by Peter Helgesen, dean of admissions at Benedictine College, and Adam Wilson, communications director at the Newman Society.
The schedule also included one presentation on financing a college education by UD’s Plotts and another on effectively training students to lead campus tours by Arthur Ortiz, assistant vice president for enrollment at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
“Throughout the conference, the attendees experienced kindnesses and courtesies from the staff and faculty at the University of Dallas,” said Laird. “Everywhere we went, it was very clear that the University is enthusiastically Catholic.”
Each day began with Mass at the Dominican priory on campus and one day featured a quick trip downtown for dinner via the DART rail system, which has a stop within the University of Dallas campus.
Attendees left the conference with a sound understanding of the issues that they can work on throughout the year as they identify and develop best practices that strengthen the Catholic identity of their institutions.
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