By Lisa Alvarenga
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word is the largest Catholic university in Texas but the new dean of enrollment envisions UIW becoming the largest private school in the state.
Jennielle Strother shares the vision of the president, Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr., that UIW is headed in the right direction to overtake Baylor University, the current champion in enrollment among the state’s private schools.
“Everyone I talk to in San Antonio has some sort of connection to UIW,” Strother said. “You don’t have to be alumni to have a really strong connection to UIW and that’s part of the story I want to tell.”
Strother, a San Antonio native, said she more than excited to be back home and working at UIW after previously working as vice president of enrollment at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. She replaces Andrea Cyterski-Acosta, who began working Nov. 1 as associate dean of admissions at the School of Osteopathic Medicine set to open in fall 2017 off campus at Brooks City Base.
On the main campus, Strother will work with the Office of Admissions to try and increase enrollment as well as develop a successful student profile – a key element in the campaign.
UIW’s physical growth is evidence that the university isn’t standing still, Strother said.
“All of this expansion is proof that we are growing,” Strother said. “That’s a sign of health and in higher education expansion is not common. It’s all meeting the needs of the growth.”
One of her goals at UIW is to increase the number of first-generation students that have been in a similar situation to her own, said Strother, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Dallas Baptist University, a master’s degree in enrollment management from Capella University based in Minneapolis, Minn., and is working on a doctorate in organizational leadership from Northeastern University in Boston.
“Not only was I the first in my family to go to college, I was the first to earn a master’s degree, and now I am the first to be a doctoral student,” Strother said. “I didn’t know where I was supposed to go to apply or how to get financial aid. My parents were very supportive and navigating that path was intimidating.
“Because of that experience in my life, I have chosen enrollment management as my profession. I want to make sure students aren’t guessing. We are here to help. I want to find students that feel lost in (the) application process because we are still able to make that one-to- one connection and shepherd them into the right degree program.”
Strother has worked in higher education for quite some time and sees it as her way of giving back to the community.
“This place is really special,” she said. “I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being here at this time in the university’s history. I have been working in higher education for 15 years and I have not experienced this sense of community, innovation, and support anywhere else.”