Western Kentucky University (ww.wku.edu) invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for a strategic and seasoned leader to serve as its Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience.


Western Kentucky University (WKU): Founded in 1906, WKU is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, an ethnically and racially diverse city of 61,500 people, about 110 miles south of Louisville and 65 miles north of Nashville. More than 50 different languages are spoken in and around Bowling Green and people from 35 nationalities call the area home. We seek to attract research- and teaching-active faculty, as well as staff members, from academically and culturally diverse backgrounds. The university's population of approximately 20,000 students includes 35% first generation university/college, 15% underrepresented minority and 6% international students. A regional comprehensive university, WKU is student-centered and focuses on applied research that expands knowledge; improves learning; and serves the region, state and nation.


Reporting directly to the university President the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience (VPESE) will provide leadership for enrollment and student life across the university. The Vice President will work closely with the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs & the Executive Vice-President for Strategy, Operations and Finance and serve as a member of the University’s cabinet.  The VPESE is the chief enrollment and student affairs officer for WKU.  They will build on the considerable institutional support to recruit, attract, select, enroll, retain, educate, develop, and graduate a highly qualified and increasingly diverse group of students.

The VPESE bears primary responsibility for developing, articulating, and implementing an ambitious and thoughtful strategic plan for the student experience, with particular attention to student enrollment and strategic enrollment positioning and planning. The successful candidate will serve as a partner to the provost and deans of the university's colleges and assume broad leadership within the university. The Vice President will achieve the university's goal of supporting a seamless and integrated student experience, providing the direction, leadership, and strategy to optimize WKU's current and future enrollment and student experience.

The VPESE will join WKU at an important time in the institution’s history as it engages in a university-wide strategic planning initiative. The successful candidate will enhance the existing systems and structures to aid in enrollment and student affairs planning and decision making at all levels and will lead an ongoing institution-wide conversation about WKU’s enrollment vision, goals, and strategy. They must possess great analytic and technological depth, the ability to improve upon all metrics in the enrollment spectrum, working knowledge of current national issues in student affairs, a commitment to keeping student welfare always at the forefront, and a proven capacity for embedding enrollment and student life priorities within institutional values and aspirations. The Vice President will also be an active collaborator with superior interpersonal communication skills and will possess the professional currency that will garner the trust and confidence of senior leaders, faculty, campus constituents, and division staff.

Critical areas for success and expectations for leadership include but are not limited to the following:

Develop and implement a vision for enrollment and student experience that is aligned with the university’s strategic direction.

WKU recently began its first strategic enrollment planning process, which will examine the institutions current enrollment and retention practices and inform and set the direction of enrollment management activities for the university. This effort is led by the VPESE and requires the Vice President to be attune to the needs and expectations of our prospective students.

Strategic Innovation & Assessment

The VPESE is responsible for continuing the work of establishing a sustainable and innovative student success model that brings together enrollment and student life in a revolutionary way. They will assess current strategic alignment between enrollment and student affairs in support of a seamless, well-planned, and cohesive student experience. The Vice President will be a leader capable of enacting this transformation, bringing to bear the vision, strategic plan and priorities, resources, and institution-wide support necessary to make the institutional enrollment and student life goals. The Vice President must encourage strong linkages between enrollment, student life and partnerships with Academic Affairs, to enhance the areas where synergies already exist and identify opportunities for additional collaboration. The Vice President will be required to review, digest and respond to reports and data on a regular basis to shape the direction for the division and the university’s enrollment efforts. The Vice President must be able to excel in a nimble and flexible environment where course corrections and program design must occur quickly. 

Create a seamless student experience

The VPESE is charged with the management and development for the student experience at WKU. They must be able to manage and provide leadership for all of the student-facing offices within the Division of Enrollment and Student Experience while establishing partnerships with such offices in other divisions in support of enhancing the student experience.  The Vice President must be data-driven and intuitive. They must be comfortable taking bold action and making difficult choices to serve as an advocate and ally for all students. They must champion the campus community and be responsive to the rapidly evolving needs of students and their support networks, removing barriers and processes that impede student success and diminish positive student momentum in persistence, retention, and completion. The Vice President is a partner with the students, willing to undertake the thorough work of understanding WKU students and their support structure and assessing and refining existing institutional practices in support of student success.

The Vice President will provide leadership for a team of approximately 300 full-time staff in the following areas:

Departments within Enrollment and Student Experience 

  • Admissions
  • Adult Learner Services
  • Advising & Career Development Center
  • Campus Recreation & Wellness
  • Chief Diversity Officers
  • College & School Relations
  • Counseling Center
  • Dean of Students
  • Enrollment Management
  • Housing & Residence Life
  • I.D. Center
  • Intercultural Student Engagement Center
  • Office of Sustainability
  • Student Centers & Unions
  • Student Conduct
  • Student Athlete Success Center
  • Student Accessibility Resource Center
  • Student Activities, Organizations & Leadership Programs
  • Student Financial Assistance
  • Transfer Center
  • TRIO Programs
  • WKU Police
  • WKU Restaurant Group

The Vice President is expected to leverage existing resources to recruit, enroll and retain the right mix of students in respect to diversity and talent. Key considerations for the Vice President will include the cost of attendance, amount of financial aid awarded, recruitment of non-traditional and transfer students, balance of need-based and merit aid, discount rate, and the existence of an inclusive, positive environment for student growth.

WKU's president supports leadership that is innovative, entrepreneurial, and nimble in every aspect of the enrollment process and student experience. The VPESE will be a thinker who embraces and extends the distinctive tradition of the university and will implement new strategies to expand the institution's visibility and ability to attract, select, enroll, retain, develop, and graduate a highly diverse, academically qualified, and gifted group of students in accordance with its strategic plan.


  • Enhance retention and student success
  • Continue to enhance the use of data analysis and technology
  • Partner closely with schools and colleges and academic leadership
  • Implement WKU’s first Strategic Enrollment Plan
  • Develop and grow divisional staff
  • Oversight for divisional budgets including Education and General ($15 million dollars), Scholarship & Financial Aid ($28.5 million dollars), and Auxiliary-Housing, Dining & Union ($33.3 Million Dollars).


  • Values vision, creativity, and leadership
  • Leadership style comfortable and effective in a highly visible role
  • Intellectually curious and up to date on current trends and best practices within enrollment and student affairs
  • Proven track record in enrollment management, student success, and student affairs
  • Exceptional analytical and technological skills
  • Proven success building enrollment through data-informed strategic enrollment planning
  • Commitment to retention and student success, and a holistic understanding of student affairs
  • Dedication to diversity and inclusion
  • Ability to market an institution to achieve superior levels of enrollment performance
  • Enhanced communication skills to articulate a vision effectively to all constituencies


  • Master's Degree in Higher Education, Leadership, Public Administration and Policy, College Student Personnel, or related field
  • Strong knowledge of the student life cycle including recruitment, enrollment and retention
  • 7+ years of senior management experience at the department head level or greater for a student support or enrollment department
  • Experience in implementing a Strategic Enrollment Plan at the university-wide level
  • Demonstrated experience in collaborating and communicating with faculty, student life, and student services staff, colleagues, and administrators


The Search Committee invites nominations, applications (a letter of interest, resume/CV, and the names and contact information of five or more references) or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting Western Kentucky University.  Review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.  It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted to the search firm by January 9, 2020.  For additional information, please contact:

Porsha L. Williams, Vice President
Rich McNeal, Associate
Parker Executive Search
Five Concourse Parkway, Suite 2900
Atlanta, GA 30328
Phone: 770-804-1996 x109 or x112
pwilliams@parkersearch.com | rmcneal@parkersearch.com

Applications will be considered in confidence, but the name and curriculum vitae of finalists will be released prior to on-campus meetings with key constituency groups as part of the final interview process.

University policy and state law require a thorough background investigation of finalists.

Western Kentucky University (WKU) is committed to a policy of providing equal employment and educational opportunities to all candidates. Western Kentucky University will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, marital status, age, uniformed services, veteran status, genetic information, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, or physical or mental disability in admission to career and technical education programs and/or activities, or employment practices in accordance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Revised 1992, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Persons with disabilities, who need reasonable accommodations to participate in the application and/or selection process, should notify the office of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action/University ADA Services (EEO) at (270) 745-5121.

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