Mr. Andrew Ellison assumes role as new VP for Enrollment

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With the official retirement of Dr. John Plotts, executive vice president, on Sunday, June 30, Andrew Ellison is taking on the mantle of vice president for enrollment at the University of Dallas. The position involves overseeing undergraduate and graduate admissions and financial aid.

Ellison will be working with Carey Christenberry, director of undergraduate admissions, to help oversee and guide the undergraduate admissions process.

“He wants to support what we do. He wants to improve what we do,” said Christenberry. “In a lot of ways he will be a quality control guide for what we do.”

Hailing from Indiana, Ellison has plenty of experience in K-12 classical education, having worked in public charter schools as a high school teacher, a high school principal and a district administrator.

“Like UD, public charter schools are institutions driven by choice,” said Ellison. “Families have to choose to make a commitment to send their kids there. While public charter schools are tuition-free, unlike private colleges, families are still making a significant investment of time, emotional energy and [trust].”

During Ellison’s time as a high school principal, UD attracted more of his attention. Ellison’s first visit to UD’s campus was in spring 2012 on a teacher recruiting trip.

“As a classical, liberal arts high school principal, I had to find people who would teach Latin and Greek and philosophy and literature and theology. It should come as no surprise [that the] University of Dallas was a great exporter of young teaching talent,” said Ellison. “The program might not have had the celebrity faculty, but UD students were better linguists than anyone else I was interviewing and that really made an impression upon me.”

In summer 2023, Ellison became the director of the St. Ambrose Center at the University of Dallas, which focuses on offering training, support, and professional development to K-12 schools around the country – specifically, schools looking to improve their teaching in the classical liberal arts tradition.

In his new role, Ellison is now directing his focus to the growth of the university’s student body, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“The college-bound American populace is shifting its attention,” said Ellison. “On the one hand, there’s a mass move towards huge, modern, 21st-century multiversities – places that enroll 10,000 to 30,000 students and offer degrees in anything and everything. [There’s] a much smaller shift of college-bound students and families who are looking for a recovery of traditional college experience. As that shift in demand is directing more students towards these colleges like UD, Hillsdale, Benedictine, Catholic University of America, and Franciscan University of Steubenville, there’s a great opportunity for us to grow our enrollment here and see if we can get to freshman classes of 500 in a couple of years.”

Ellison recognizes that campus visits and campus-centered events are great opportunities for UD to expand its enrollment.

“We need to get more people here visiting, more people looking, because everybody who comes and visits is blown away by the quality of the education, the quality of the professoriate, the culture of the student body. What we have here is a gem,” said Ellison. “An event like [the] Scholars of Excellence weekend is a powerful recruiting tool for students and their families. We’d love to get more people out here for things like that.”

Moreover, Ellison is looking to promote the affordability and accessibility of UD.

“We need to do a better job of making sure that families know that UD is affordable,” said Ellison. “Less than half of our graduating seniors graduate with any debt at all. That’s a big deal and it’s not because their parents are rich. It’s because UD actually is very accessible and very affordable.”

Ellison is ready to get the ball rolling and assist in displaying UD’s unique character to the country.

“The business of recruiting for undergraduate and graduate programs alike for the last two decades has gotten a lot more market-driven. It’s like an arms race,” said Ellison. “It’s a very different world. The more crowded and the more noisy the marketplace becomes, the more noise you have to make in order to survive in that environment. We’re ready to make some noise.”

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