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Q & A with FLC's new Director of Admission, Jess Savage

Jess Savage, Director of AdmissionIn between getting settled into her new job at Fort Lewis College and into life in Durango, FLC’s Director of Admission Jess Savage answered a few questions in order to offer some insight into why she decided to come to FLC and what she sees for the College’s future.

Where’d you come from and what were you doing there?

Most recently, I was serving as the Associate Director of Admission at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.  There I oversaw all aspects of freshmen recruitment, admission and scholarship.  I collaborated across the department, division and University to implement new recruitment initiatives, many of which contributed to the increased enrollment in recent years. 

Prior to my time at Western, I spent nine years working in the Admissions Office at Carroll College, a small, liberal arts college in Montana. My work there included recruitment, programs and admission, but also coordinating our marketing and communication efforts, leading our team through the implementation of a new student information system, online application and a website redesign.  

In addition to being a self-proclaimed “Admissions Nerd” (books on my nightstand include: There is Life After CollegeGrit, and College Admission for the 21st Century) I also enjoy taking advantage of living in a beautiful place!  In Washington, my family and I had been crabbing and clamming and hiking in the rain – now here in Durango, we look forward to some drier hikes, river rafting and playing in the snow!

Why did you decide to come to Fort Lewis College?

I was initially drawn to Fort Lewis College because of its smaller size, the mission of the institution, and, of course, the beautiful location! I think that smaller campuses really can extend incredible opportunities to students to connect with and learn from one another and, most importantly, the faculty.  I believe the breadth that a liberal arts education provides is necessary to success in any and every profession or career. And I think that public institutions play a critical role in the landscape of American higher education – providing access, affordability and opportunity to students.  

When I came to campus for my interview, I could see, even in that short time, that FLC is a very special place.  Everyone I spoke with seemed to echo my thoughts on a place like FLC and had serving students as their top priority.  Furthermore, I felt a sense of community and collaboration here almost instantly and that is exactly the kind of campus I wanted to be a part of. 

The big question: With enrollment being a challenge, what are some of your thoughts on how we move forward? (Knowing that you just got here and don’t have all the answers yet)

While I am only just beginning to explore and understand the challenges and opportunities before us, I know that there will not be just one solution.  I look forward to learning and collaborating with folks from across campus to better understand our current situation and start building a plan to increase enrollment.  Creative solutions, innovation and change doesn’t happen with one person, or one office – this is why the sense of community I felt on my interview was so attractive to me. 

Some areas I’m interested in exploring, because they are so unfamiliar to me at this point, include:

  • Our recruitment and outreach efforts – are we fully utilizing data about our students and the ever-changing market to help us make the best decisions on who we should be reaching out to?   
  • Our campus visit programs – are we meeting and exceeding the expectations of students and parents? What could we do differently? 
  • Our communications with students – are we able to meet their expectations and provide engaging content across multiple platforms?   

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