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University selects head of undergraduate enrollment

Laura McCrystal | Thursday, September 16, 2010

Donald Bishop, a 1977 Notre Dame graduate, will become associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, effective Dec. 1, the University announced Wednesday.   

Bishop, who has worked with enrollment at several colleges and universities, succeeds Dan Saracino, who retired in June as director of undergraduate admissions. Robert Mundy currently serves as interim director.

“As an alumnus and the parent of a Notre Dame graduate, Don has a deep love for this institution and appreciates the distinctive educational opportunities that Notre Dame offers as a premier Catholic research university,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in a press release. “I am delighted to welcome him back to his alma mater.”

Bishop’s hiring also marks the establishment of a new collaboration between the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Services, as he will oversee both offices.

“Colleges have to understand that there’s a connection between financial decision making in the college investment and in the final college selection,” Bishop said. “So we are adopting this system to become more productive and efficient.”

Bishop said the University would remain need-blind in its admission process, but the change allows Notre Dame to examine the correlation between enrollment and financial decisions for high school students and their families.

“Financial considerations today are more important than they’ve ever been,” he said. “So connecting financial aid and admissions is something that now many schools have migrated to managing together so it’s a consistent strategic planning process.”

Bishop began his career with the Notre Dame admissions office in 1977, and rose to associate director of admissions before he left in 1985 to work as dean of enrollment at Ohio Wesleyan University. He also held positions in enrollment at Cornell University, Creighton University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he currently serves as the associate vice president for enrollment management.

“I view it as an advantage that I left Notre Dame and learned about other institutions and how they were being perceived by the public,” Bishop said.

“Notre Dame has a lot more resources now than when I worked in the admissions office before. And what we want to do is make sure we’re using those resources very actively and creatively.”

Bishop said his work at other institutions also allowed him to understand the qualities that allow Notre Dame to stand apart from other universities.

“I think Notre Dame is exceptional and not like other schools. It’s really unique in American higher education,” he said.

To effectively attract applicants who would thrive at Notre Dame, Bishop said he will engage current students, parents and faculty. He wants to learn why students and parents chose Notre Dame, and also which qualities professors see as most valuable in their students.

For example, Notre Dame is known for students with strong character, in addition to academic profiles and test scores. Bishop said would like to hold students to an even higher standard than the traditionally strong Notre Dame graduate.

“So how do we balance the intellectual ability of students and the emotional ability?” He said. “That’s very lofty and it will take some time, but it will be interesting to make the effort.”

Bishop has an interest in research, which he said he owes to both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics from Notre Dame. He has extensively researched the selection process at top universities around the country, and he plans to explore which desired attributes of students could play a bigger role in the admissions process at Notre Dame.

“It is important for Notre Dame to succeed and to be the most attractive intellectual opportunity for students who want to use that success to serve others,” he said. “So the first priority is pulling the team together and just trying to think creatively if there are other things that we can do.”