October 30, 2020

Buster-Williams’ Research Project featured in Richmond Times-Dispatch

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams was featured in an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sunday, July 26, 2020. The feature story discussed the discovery of her grandmother’s connection to a national social organization.

 

Kimberley Buster-Williams celebrated a joyous Christmas Day with her family in December, but it would be an unwrapped box she opened a day later that would turn out to be the most beloved of gifts.

Buster-Williams, of Fredericksburg, stumbled onto an unknown family legacy when she began looking through family pictures and documents last December that had belonged to her grandmother, Mary Hewlett Brown. The family matriarch and native Richmonder died in late January at age 98. Those who knew her called her Lollie.

Those she held closest in her heart called her “Mama Lollie.”

Buster-Williams intended to use the box of photos and documents to gather information for the obituary she would eventually write for Mama Lollie. That day after Christmas, however, as Buster-Williams began sifting through the contents of the box, she found a folder labeled “Epicureans,” an organization she’d only ever heard of in passing.

She was intrigued.

Earlier this year, with those same documents spread out on a table before her, Buster-Williams said she was curious back in December about what she found. There was a 1944 photo of 11 young, well-dressed Black women surrounding a table with what appeared to be cut-out letters that spelled “EPICUREANS.” Her grandmother was there, in the midst of the group. Read more.

Q&A Session Focused on Recruitment and Retention

UMW faculty and staff tuned in yesterday to a Zoom presentation and Q&A session centered on fall enrollment and retention in the time of COVID-19. Facilitated by Chief of Staff Jeff McClurken, the hour-long event included Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski, Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young and Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack.

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Buster-Williams and Yakabouski, who together have worked half a century in college admissions, said that the recruitment-related woes they’ve faced throughout their careers have been trumped by unemployment rates, health concerns and other disruptions caused by the current pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken an increasingly competitive college-enrollment landscape to new heights, the administrators said, forcing them to re-imagine strategies for recruiting and retaining students, and pose innovative solutions. At the time of the talk, first-year deposits stood at slightly more than 100 less than anticipated, according to Buster-Williams. This mirrors a downward trend across the country, she said. Mary Washington, like other schools, has extended the enrollment deposit deadline to June 1.

“We find ourselves in the midst of a recruitment crisis, and the outpouring of support has been truly appreciated,” she said of faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the Mary Washington community who are pitching in to help yield a strong incoming class.

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

Director of Undergraduate Admissions Melissa Yakabouski

After working for years to build a 2020-21 UMW undergraduate cohort – visiting schools, attending college fairs, reading applications and more – “our entire operation went online,” Yakabouski said. Without the overwhelming support, she said, “we could not have pivoted as quickly or as well.”

Among incoming students’ top concerns, she said, are a need to connect and a desire to know if Mary Washington will be able to meet its goal of providing in-person learning this fall or if the coronavirus crisis will force courses back online.

Pack and Young said they also have been “sorting through uncertainties” to meet the changing demands of adult learners by enhancing testing and pathway options, and financial support opportunities.

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Director of Graduate Admissions Christy Pack

Together, Pack said, the two have hosted virtual sessions throughout the past six weeks for 150 students interested in enrolling in UMW’s MBA, M.Ed., MSGA, BSN, BLS, GIS-certification and other professional development programs.

“Uncertainty means we have hope,” said Young, who is keeping a close eye on the ways in which UMW can help meet the changing needs of area industries, such as offering COVID-19-influenced courses required of educators.

Participants posed a host of questions about such topics as how other schools’ decisions impact UMW’s admissions operations and what unique enrollment strategies are being considered.

“We are making sure we’re being really brilliant at the basics,” Buster-Williams said.

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

Executive Director of Continuing and Professional Studies Kimberly Young

In answer to Professor of Chemistry Nicole Crowder’s question on how the entire UMW community can continue to support this crucial effort, Yakabouski suggested being responsive to inquiries from prospective students and their parents, and sharing innovative ideas.

“Recruitment isn’t just about the four of us on this panel,” Young said. “It’s about all of us.”

Watch the May 20 Q&A session on YouTube.

Buster-Williams Participates in Virtual COVID-19 Discussion

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President for Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Kimberley Buster-Williams, vice president for enrollment management, participated in American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) virtual Coffee Talk event on Friday, May 1, 2020. Buster-Williams presented with colleagues Tom Green, Stan Henderson, and Jody Gordon (University of the Fraser Valley). The 60-minute session was titled, “AACRAO Coffee Break: Enrollment Planning for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

Buster-Williams Headlines Strategic Enrollment Management Conference

Vice President of Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams was a headliner at the 29th Annual Strategic Enrollment Management Conference, presented by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 3-6, 2019. An AACRAO member since 1996, Buster-Williams has more than two decades of experience in higher education, including senior administrative assignments at Northern Illinois University and the University of Michigan-Flint. Her background includes extensive work in strategic planning, enrollment management in the academic context, access and diversity, branding/marketing, and assessment.

Buster-Williams Published in Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly (SEMQ)

Vice President of Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Vice President of Enrollment Management Kimberley Buster-Williams

Kimberley Buster-Williams, vice president for enrollment management, had an article featured in Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly’s summer edition (Vol. 7, Issue 2). The article was titled “Reflections on SEM Leadership: Evolving and Emerging Roles.” SEM Quarterly, published by AACRAO, provides knowledge and insight into the ongoing evolution of strategic enrollment management (SEM). SEMQ bridges the gap between theory and practice with articles by thought leaders and practitioners who address the emerging dynamics of SEM, including: executive-level leadership, leading strategies, internationalization, research, academic orientation, and current trends.

Buster-Williams Nominated for AACRAO LEAD

Kimberley Buster-Williams, vice president for enrollment management, has been invited to participate in a new initiative called AACRAO LEAD. AACRAO’s new initiative called LEAD (Leaders in Enrollment Advancing Diversity) will take a multi-pronged approach at identifying and preparing a diverse group of enrollment leaders to take on leadership roles in Enrollment Management in North America and across the globe.

The LEAD initiative will kick off at the 2018 SEM Conference with a Monday evening reception hosted by Buster- Williams and colleagues who have taken the lead on inculcating diversity and inclusivity values in SEM.

At the reception, the hosts will introduce the AACRAO LEAD theme, which will be built upon at future events. Plans include:

  • A diversity leadership development program for mid-level professionals.
  • A webinar series.
  • A scholarship program for AACRAO’s SEM Endorsement Program.

AACRAO is a professional association of more than 11,000 higher education professionals who represent approximately 2,600 institutions in more than 40 countries. Its mission is to provide professional development, guidelines and voluntary standards to be used by higher education officials regarding the best practices in records management, admissions, enrollment management, administrative information technology and student services. AACRAO represents institutions in every part of the higher education community, from large public institutions to small, private liberal arts colleges. http://www.aacrao.org/home/about

Buster-Williams Published in Recruitment and Retention

Kimberley Buster-Williams, associate provost for enrollment management, had an article featured in Recruitment and Retention’s December edition. The article was titled “Moving to an Effective Digital Records Strategy.”

Buster-Williams Published in College & University Journal

Kimberley Buster- Williams, associate provost for enrollment management, had an article featured in College & University’s winter edition. The article was titled “Optimism in Enrollment Management.” College & University is AACRAO’s educational policy and research journal focusing on emerging concerns, new techniques, and technology in higher education. It is published four times a year.

UMW Initiates Test-Optional Admissions Provision

The University of Mary Washington will offer high-achieving prospective students the opportunity to opt out of providing standardized college admission tests with their application for enrollment. The University’s Board of Visitors approved the action during its April meeting. Donald Rallis' geography class, Thursday Oct. 27, 2011. (Photo by Norm Shafer).Beginning with the 2015-16 recruitment period, high school students who have maintained at least a 3.5 grade point average have the option of waiving submission of their SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Test) scores when applying for admission to the university. Previously, UMW required either SAT or ACT scores for students to be considered for admission. Students applying for merit-based scholarships would be ineligible for this program. “High school GPAs are by far one of the strongest predictors of college success,” said Kimberley Buster-Williams, associate provost for enrollment management and admissions. “We welcome the opportunity to consider admission for students who perhaps do not test well or for whom a standardized test doesn’t reflect their true potential.” Strong academic students traditionally pursue a rigorous high school curriculum that includes college-level courses, Buster-Williams said. She added that the most compelling reason for instituting a test-optional policy is to enhance the diversity of the student body. Data reveals that schools with test-optional policies often see increased applications from minorities, women, Pell-eligible students, first-generation college students and students with learning differences. In addition, a growing body of evidence suggests that high school GPA is a better indicator of student success in college than standardized test scores. Currently, more than 800 colleges and universities no longer require the submission of standardized test scores in admission decisions, according to Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing. To be considered for admission to UMW, any student who applies to UMW must submit a high school transcript, essay and letters of recommendation.

Buster-Williams Publishes in Recruitment & Retention

Kimberley Buster-Williams, associate provost for enrollment management, recently had her article “Managing Big Data” accepted for publication in Recruitment & Retention In Higher Education. The paper will be published in April.