The University of Kansas freshman class has grown for four straight years, a notable achievement that can be attributed largely to the great work being done by Enrollment Management, Marketing Communications and other offices that communicate directly with prospective students.
But our success in bringing students to Mount Oread goes beyond recruitment, enrollment and marketing. Each of you plays a role in attracting students to KU through your research and service, which extends beyond our campuses and influences students who are deciding whether to become a Jayhawk.
Our faculty and staff should be applauded for their scholarship, not only because it changes the world, but because it is noticed by such students. New Jayhawks are drawn to KU when they see our scholars argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, craft original adaptations of 17th century plays or build companies that develop new cancer treatments. These students are excited to study at a university where they can work with a NASA aerial vehicle or develop prototype bikes and paddleboards using locally sourced bamboo.
Current students help us recruit new Jayhawks by serving as role models for prospective students. Take KU senior Alex Kong, who last week was named KU’s third recipient of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship and embodies everything prospective students can aspire to at KU. Beyond Alex, all of our students are KU ambassadors in their hometowns — meaning the work you do to help them succeed influences the next generation of Jayhawks.
The same goes for our alumni, who play a powerful role in promoting KU across the country. They do this by hosting events and connecting students with our recruiters, but perhaps most importantly by having successful careers and lives, which is the best-possible advertisement for a university.
Students are also drawn to KU for its amenities and physical beauty, which is in large part thanks to the generosity of donors and the staff who design and maintain our campuses. The 2016 freshman class will enjoy gorgeous new facilities in Self and Oswald halls, a shimmering new School of Business building, a renovated Spencer Museum of Art and a restored Jayhawk Boulevard that ranks among the nation’s most iconic campus thoroughfares.
When we talk about prospective students, we’re usually talking about high school students and prospective transfer and graduate students. But your work influences students much younger than that. This happens when middle schoolers visit campus for engineering camps, when schoolchildren explore our Natural History Museum and when KU volleyball players sign autographs for young girls at the Final Four.
KU has nationally ranked programs, experiential learning opportunities and competitive scholarships. These are tangible things to which you all contribute, and they matter a lot. But there’s also an intangible “feel” a prospective student gets about a university, often from a seemingly routine conversation with a professor, librarian, dining hall chef or museum archivist. All of us can help students feel that KU is the place for them.
If you know of a student who has applied to KU and is deciding whether to commit, please encourage him or her to do so. And if you have an opportunity to meet with a prospective student, know that the connection you make can help ensure that he or she chooses KU.
Thank you again for your support.