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Pollard eyes data-driven decisions as new associate VP for enrollment management

LA Warren NUByline2018

Cheryl Pollard has been named the associate vice president for enrollment management for Jackson State University.

Before arriving at JSU, the native of Wilmington, North Carolina, was director of undergraduate admission at North Carolina A&T. Also, she previously had been interim associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.

During her tenure there, NC A&T “earned the distinction as the largest HBCU in the country, and that was because of the strategic initiatives and goals that we put into place,” Pollard said.

JSU President William B. Bynum Jr. said Pollard has contributed well to her profession.

Cheryl Pollard, the new associate vice president for enrollment management, is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. She said she wants students outside of Mississippi to understand the opportunities that are available to them at Jackson State University.

Cheryl Pollard, the new associate vice president for enrollment management, is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina. She said she wants students outside of Mississippi to understand the opportunities that are available to them at Jackson State University. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Bynum said, “During the recruitment of Miss Pollard, I had the opportunity to speak with NC A&T Chancellor Harold Martin. He assured me that Cheryl has the skills and abilities to lead our enrollment efforts and that she was an integral part of NC A&T’s enrollment successes.”

With 20 years of experience in enrollment management, Pollard started out as an admissions recruiter and spent nine weeks every semester on the road recruiting students. “I’ve been fortunate enough to grow within enrollment management over the years. I’ve served as a director of student leadership and student development.”

‘When you ‘re not measuring you find yourself doing the same things over and over and never giving any thought to what’s working and what’s not working.’ — Cheryl Pollard, associate vice president for enrollment management That experience resulted in her launching an ambassador program with 18 students that grew to 80 students by the time she left as the director. She called it the “proudest” moment.

At JSU, she said her charge is to build a strategic initiative that would increase enrollment while also aligning her goals with the president’s pillars of success. Pollard said her approach will involve data-driven decisions on a preferred five-year span. “We are confident that with this data we will be able to realize obtainable goals.”

So, what brought her to Jackson State University?

“I’ve never lived outside the state of North Carolina. I stepped away from the world of work to care for a terminally ill mother. As I was caring for my mother, we were having a conversation. And, I said, ‘Why did I never leave North Carolina after undergraduate school 30 years ago.’ And she said, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Pollard recalled.

“Two weeks before she passed away she said to me, ‘I’m getting ready to leave here. Now, you can go anywhere you want to go.’ As I stepped through the grieving process, I wanted to give myself time to intentionally and thoughtfully step through.”

She described that next step as her “reboot process.” So, when she visited Jackson State she said, “I saw opportunities to make an immediate impact. I saw where my skills and experiences could immediately be put to use, and that is what drew me here.”

As a result, Pollard jumped right in and starting putting ideas into place. One of those ideas involved instituting measurements for the enrollment program, specifically for High School Day in her first week.

‘We’ll develop a national strategic marketing and communications plan, with emphasis on JSU’s $500 out-of-state tuition.’ — Associate VP Pollard“Right before High School Day we were able to put together a survey so that our audience would have an opportunity to share with us how we are doing; how much they enjoyed the program; what worked; what didn’t work; and in which areas we need to improve,” Pollard said.

“When you’re not measuring you find yourself doing the same things over and over and never giving any thought to what’s working and what’s not working.”

In the end, she said, “We were able to receive some really significant intel from those surveys, and we were able to put into place some improvement measures.”

Furthermore, Pollard said she wants students outside of Mississippi to understand the opportunities that are available to them at Jackson State University, including becoming a Rhodes Scholar finalist.

To accomplish this goal, “We’ll develop a national strategic marketing and communications plan, with emphasis on JSU’s $500 out-of-state tuition.”

Pollard said she’s optimistic about her future success at JSU because of the support she’s received so far.

“I’m so appreciative. Everyone has been warm, inviting and very open.” She also credits the administration and staff for their “transparency as it relates to the challenges and our opportunities. Transparency becomes a catalyst for growth,” Pollard said.