William Woods welcomed a new Vice President of Enrollment Services last month, as Dr. Andy Otto joined the University with more than a decade of experience in higher education admissions and enrollment leadership roles. He recently sat down to answer Five Questions for The Woods Today, as told to John Fougere:
1.) Could you walk us through your background, personal information and higher education career prior to joining William Woods? I’m originally from Drexel, Missouri, and attended Ottawa University for my undergraduate degree, majoring in English, where I was a Presidential Scholar, played football and ran track. Most importantly, I met my wife, Courtney, while attending. Following graduation, I started in higher education at Ottawa University’s Adult/Online program as an Admissions Counselor. While in this role, I pursued and graduated with my MBA from Ottawa University. Following my time with that division, I transitioned to the residential campus where I worked up to the role of Director of Enrollment Management. In this role, I guided Ottawa University’s undergraduate and graduate enrollment efforts and saw record enrollments for five straight years up to my departure. While in this role, I also pursued a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Northwest Nazarene University, and can proudly say I defended my dissertation in April and graduated in May!
2.) What attracted you to a university such as William Woods? My initial attraction to William Woods was the similarity it had with my previous institution. As a byproduct of a small, private liberal arts institution, I value the experience that institutions provide. The intimacy and engagement experienced on campuses such as William Woods are what makes them so great. The same can be said about these institutions’ online and graduate programs. William Woods, to me, was about opportunity and excitement. With Dr. Moreland stepping into the presidency, there is an air of excitement surrounding WWU and its current and prospective positioning that is captivating. As more people are drawn into this environment, the opportunities begin to grow and can do so exponentially.
3.) As the University’s new Vice President of Enrollment Services, what is your vision for the incredibly important task of increasing enrollment at WWU? My vision for increasing enrollment at WWU is one built on value and experience, which, ultimately, go hand in hand. In times of debt aversion or the prospective of a population of students contemplating the necessity of a college degree, it is my hope that we are able to overcome such objections with value and the student experience. The small, private, liberal arts institution provides an experience unlike any other educational institution (public, community college, technical) in that it offers personal, engaged and holistically developmental experience to students, whether on the traditional campus or studying from afar. Students are encouraged to participate in various activities, programs, professional development and personal growth opportunities. All of which contribute to the value WWU offers. As I look at enrollment initiatives, value and experience must be considered to ensure we meet student demand and expectations.
4.) What are the biggest challenges to increasing enrollment in the world of higher education today, particularly for institutions like William Woods?? I think we are in a time where students and families are diving deeper into the value and necessity of a college degree. And so being able to overcome these objections on the front end, but also provide the promised experience on the back end to equate the value proposition is key. If those things don’t line up, then one of two things happen: 1) you won’t get the student here 2) you’ll get them here and then they’ll leave.
5.) What are some of your passions/hobbies? My wife and I love the collegiate atmosphere and so you will often see my wife and three kids on campus at different events supporting student activities, athletics, etc. It’s part of the reason I do what I do. We love seeing students, their growth and excitement. We do a lot with our kids in the form of activities and so are always out and about with them. I enjoy reading and look forward to doing some fun reading now that I’ve finished my doctorate program. I also enjoy working out and staying fit and so on occasion, you may catch me in the Weider Fitness Center.