After almost half a year of searching, the new hire for Albion College’s Vice President of Enrollment Management has finally been found: Dr. Hernan Bucheli. Bucheli will begin working this position on Oct. 1.
Dr. Bucheli worked as both a faculty member and Senior Vice President at Notre Dame De Namur and Miami Dade College. In addition, he held the title of Vice Provost for Enrollment at St. Mary’s College of California. He also worked in a variety of roles at different accredited institutions, including Alliant International University and Barry University in Miami.
The previous Vice President of Enrollment Management, Steve Kline, retired this past year after working with Albion College for a total of five years. During his time here, Kline raised the number of students enrolled in the college to record levels within the past decade.
“We were very pleased with the work he had done. He helped recruit five classes, and every class that he recruited was larger than the class that came before [him].”
At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Albion College began conducting extensive interviews with eight candidates to find the new Vice President of Enrollment Management. This process included in initial two hour interviews. After four candidates had been narrowed down, interviews continued by different groups on camps made up search committees.
Groups included students on campus before the start of the fall 2019 semester. Members of the search committee came from Student Senate, Residential Life and athletic programs. Faculty members as well as certain individuals working in admissions and financial services offices were also included in the search committee.
At a final meeting in May, all Albion students were invited to an event where they could ask the candidates questions.
Eventually, groups gave their candidate evaluations to President Mauri Ditzler, who made the final decision on the hire based on these reports.
“The final four candidates were all very good, competitive, and I received positive recommendations on every one of them,” said Ditzler, “it was a tough decision, but we selected who we believe is the top candidate.”
As President Ditzler explained, this is Albion’s normal procedure for hiring new VP positions.
“In the end, I made what I hope was the best decision,” said Ditzler.
What does the VP of Enrollment do?
The Vice President of Enrollment Management is responsible for Albion College’s recruitment strategy and student retention at the college. In addition to helping incoming students find financial aid, he oversees the Financial Services, Enrollment and Admissions offices and the Provost of the College.
President Ditzler believes that Bucheli is a great fit for the college.
“He’s experienced. He has leadership experience, and he’s worked in marketing, in admissions and [in] academic affairs as well at some very good liberal arts colleges,”said Ditzler. “He’s recruited at a series of different colleges.”
In fact, Bucheli’s leadership experience was one of the things that set him apart from the other candidates.
“He has served as a Vice President, he has served as a Provost, he’s been on the Boards of different organizations. He has leadership qualities. The other thing that I really liked, something that I didn’t really expect, was that he has a lot of experience in marketing as well,” said Ditzler.
The current state of admissions
At a time when college retention rates are at an all time low, according to Ditzler, having a VP of Enrollment who is dedicated to the job is incredibly important.
Ditzler explained that, with the rapidly decreasing number of high school graduates, college admissions in the state of Michigan have been getting more and more competitive in recent years.
“The number of high school graduates are going down each year in Michigan,” said Ditzler. “About ten years ago, there were about 130 thousand students who graduated from public high schools in Michigan each year. It’s still dropping, and ten years out, we’ve projected to be about 80,000 students.”
This is why the search for a new VP of Enrollment was so important for the college and why Ditzler was content with how long the search took.
“This was one of the most important searches that we could do for the future of the college, because for the next ten years, everyone is going to be recruiting hard. And so, we took our time, and we ended up with what we thought was a really good leader,” said Ditzler.
Ditzler also believes that Bucheli has the potential to get not only admissions staff, but all faculty excited about recruiting new students.
“It’s going to take all of us working hard to keep Albion stronger in this period where so many colleges are competing for fewer and fewer students,” said Ditzler.
He explained that the college is happy with the number of students they have been recruiting in recent years, and would like to raise retention rates, as well.
“There have been fluctuations up and down, but the number [of students] have ranged up to five hundred,” said Ditzler. “We would like to get more stabilized towards the higher end of that range. When the last VP arrived, there were only about 350 students being recruited. But since then average enrollment has gone up, and the lowest number in the last five years was still very good.”
Most importantly, Ditlzer hopes that with Bucheli’s aid, he will be able to recruit students who feel like they belong at Albion.
“One thing we’re looking for is students who are happy here, who fit here.”