What Does a College President Expect From a Vice President for Enrollment (VPEM)?

photo of mike maxey

Former Roanoke College president, Mike Maxey, recently visited the MARKETview office to share his perspective on enrollment and leadership, having served as the Vice President for Admissions Services for 17 years before becoming the college’s eleventh president in 2007. 

Read his thoughts regarding the pressure May 1 puts on admissions and financial aid teams and the Vice President for Enrollment Management’s (VPEM) Responsibility to an Institution’s President.  

After serving as Roanoke College’s Vice President for Admissions for 17 years, Mike Maxey served as President for 15 more. He retired in 2022. During his visit to MARKETview, he shared his perspective on what he expected from a VPEM as a President.

“They need to offer strategic solutions to stubborn problems.”  

A VPEM must be a strategist. “Strategy is always about decisions, and you need to bring strategies to deal with the changing market,” he said. 

Don’t just stop with diagnosis. Prescribe solutions. 

He also stressed the need to be proactive in reacting to challenges and opportunities. “When you have an unsatisfactory year, you get really creative,” he said. “The trick is to get creative during the good years.” For example, Maxey reserved 10% of his budget for new initiatives. In a changing and often volatile market, adaptability is key to success. He also cautioned against following into “conformity thinking.”

“Having a strategy keeps you from these tempting tactics,” he said.

The marketplace can be cruel, uncaring. MARKETview helps schools navigate it better.”

Former Roanoke College President Mike Maxey

Augment the skills of the office.

The rapid pace of advancements in technology affects every unit on campus, but enrollment teams have to be particularly adaptive to the market to successfully recruit the next incoming class. This is an area where Maxey stressed the value of MARKETview for his team.

“There are too many innovations happening too fast. MARKETview can do things that small universities simply can’t do,” he said.

He argued that schools rarely have the time or staff to do everything asked of them. His team’s use of MARKETview helped them make strategic decisions about where to invest their limited time and resources. 

Be confident but be realistic. 

Maxey also spoke about the importance of building relationships with key stakeholders, including the president, the board of trustees, and faculty. “You need to build confidence but be realistic,” he said. “Some presidents know little about admissions. You have to educate them.”

A President must constantly make tough decisions about hiring, raises, and more, and these all hinge on enrollment numbers. They need to have as few surprises as possible so they can make their best bet on what an institution’s financial outlook looks like. 

“The marketplace can be cruel, uncaring. MARKETview helps schools navigate it better,” said Maxey.

Mike Maxey served as Roanoke College’s president for 15 years, retiring in 2022. The MARKETview team is most grateful he was willing to spend time with our team.   
Image courtesy of Roanoke College.