New Admissions Director Looks Ahead

Shepherd welcomed Matthew Huber as the university’s new admission director over the summer. Huber grew up in the Midwest, born in St. Louis, Mo. He received his bachelor’s degree in music education and taught middle school and elementary orchestra for three years.  His favorite composer is Edward Elgar and he listens to orchestral music on the way to work. “It clears my mind,” he said. After teaching, Huber transferred to the administrative side of education. He spent two years at Upper Iowa University serving as an associate director. Prior to Shepherd, Huber was assistant director of admissions at Doane College in Nebraska. While working at Doane, he received his master’s degree in higher education at the University of Nebraska. He stated that he enjoys the change from the Midwest to the eastern panhandle: “It’s great. You don’t hear anyone in Nebraska or Iowa say ‘I’m going to the beach for the weekend.’” Huber was selected from an advisory committee made up of 10 members. The representatives consisted of staff from offices that work directly with admissions. Scott Beard, who holds a doctorate in musical arts, is a member of the committee. He represented academic affairs and graduate education. “I liked that Matt’s education has been in the arts. It’s neat to have someone from that discipline,” said Dr. Beard. “He is really great with people and strategic enrollment management and it seemed like a good fit.” Since his arrival at the university, Huber has begun addressing Shepherd’s admissions goals. Kim Scranage, the vice president of enrollment, stated that last year’s goals were not met due to three main factors. According to Scrange, it was due to Satisfactory Academic Progress appeals, a reduction in freshman students available and education certifications for graduate students were lower than projected. This year, Huber has begun to look forward. He stated that old campaigns such as “expect the unexpected” would change. “What we are going to focus on is selling the Shepherd experience,” he said. “The Shepherd experience recognizes you as an individual, not just as a number. There is a less chance of you to get lost in the shuffle.” Currently Shepherd’s graduation rate is at 46 percent, while the retention rate is at 68 percent. Scranage said that while there are some students that do get lost in the shuffle at times. It is not solely the university’s responsibility. “It’s a partnership from the point of which they enter to the point at which they graduate. We don’t recruit students; we recruit graduates. That means not all students are made for Shepherd and that’s okay. But again, no institution is perfect,” she said. Huber explained that the ideal student for Shepherd is one who is going to enroll, have a great four years, go on in life and do amazing things. Then, he or she would come back and complete the masters program and possibly donate to the university as an alumni member. For the upcoming year, the main Shepherdstown campus is not projected to grow. According to President Shipley at the board of governors meeting June 6, the Martinsburg Center is the only site that will likely see any growth. Huber expressed several factors that went into the lack of growth such as economy, cost and the expansion of social media. “We are in a region where we aren’t the only game out there. Part of going forward will be how can we continue to be one step ahead so we are the ones pioneering the latest recruitment efforts,” he said. Dr. Beard stated that the number of students graduating from high school has continued to decline in the last few years, which has been a nationwide trend. The graduate programs and non-degree courses will be the areas seeing more attention. “Non-traditional is the new traditional,” Dr. Beard declared.

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