Central Washington University’s new vice president of enrollment management, Sharon O’Hare, officially started her new duties today.
O’Hare will be working with executive university leadership and departments to define, develop, and implement a comprehensive strategic enrollment management plan for CWU, which is Washington’s fastest growing baccalaureate institution.
The plan will incorporate retention and recruitment activities, financial aid policy and administration, and enrollment programming. The new vice president will oversee the Office of Admissions, and the departments of Student Financial Services and Enrollment Communications.
O’Hare came to Central after serving as associate vice president for enrollment management and student success at the University of Montana.
"I am thrilled and honored to become part of this tremendously engaged campus and the community of Ellensburg,” O’Hare said. “Strategic enrollment management planning, when done well, brings the entire campus community—faculty, staff, administrators and students—together.
“We will chart a future for Central Washington University that will build on the extraordinary accomplishments of the last several years, and focus on the success of our students, expanding access to higher education, and the sustainability of the institution,” she added.
President Gaudino said among O’Hare’s first challenges will be to chart a course for sustainable enrollment, after what is anticipated to have been two years of record growth. Last fall CWU experienced a 21-percent increase in freshmen enrollment, or about 290 students over the previous year. The university is on course to grow by about the same amount this fall.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said Gaudino, referring to the consecutive years of record growth. “But we need to better understand which of our new strategies is making the difference and then use that knowledge to develop a predictable, sustainable model.”
Gaudino said O’Hare is well prepared to lead the development of a strategic enrollment plan, noting her breadth of experience in student success, as well as enrollment management. At the University of Montana, O’Hare supervised a combined staff of 60 and an operating budget of $4.8 million. She was responsible for developing the school’s strategic recruitment and communication plan as well supervising admissions, financial aid operations, and UM’s Office for Student Success.
She earlier served as the University of Montana’s assistant vice president for student success, executive director of the office of student success, and director of Math PiLOT and tutoring services. Prior to that, O’Hare was director of Housing Development, Planning & Communications for the Missoula Housing Authority and was also a city planner in Missoula and Hamilton, Montana.
“We’re delighted to have found a person with Sharon’s expertise in data and budget analysis,” said Gaudino, adding that CWU will fully implement new budget and management models over the next 12 months. “The new models have already changed discussions about courses, scheduling, program development, and, of course, enrollment and retention, and Sharon will play a critical role in those conversations.”
Gaudino said O’Hare’s experience included a private-sector dimension that will complement ongoing complex projects at CWU. She taught Methods of Critical Path Scheduling and Principles of Project Management at Colorado State University in the Department of Construction Management. Then she put that knowledge to work as a city planner for Missoula and Hamilton, Montana, and as the Director of Housing Development, Planning & Communications for the Missoula Housing Authority.
O’Hare has a M.A. in mathematics from the University of Montana, a B.A. in mathematics from the University of Montana, and a B.S. in Economics from Colorado State University and Wesleyan University.
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—June 20, 2016