Director of admissions candidate forum sheds light on enrollment initiatives

As Cal Poly Pomona works to fill the position of director of admissions, two open forum Zoom meetings were held to garner student feedback. The two final candidates are Brandon Tuck, interim director of admissions at CPP and Ronald Whitenhill, the associate director of high school outreach at University of California, Irvine.

Each candidate’s meeting consisted of a public forum held on September 29 for Tuck and October 1 for Whitenhill, allowing participants to submit questions for the candidates and allotted time, for candidates to present an outline of their leadership style, past work history, and ideas to evolve the admissions process at CPP.

Brandon Tuck, the Interim Director of Admissions at CPP and candidate for Director of Admissions at Cal Poly Pomona. (courtesy of Jessica Michelle Wagoner)

One topic that received a fair amount of attention at both meetings was the prospect of outreach in Black communities.

Tuck said, “I think to step in the right direction in terms of increasing African American enrollment at this campus is through our new admission model. There’s many more community partnerships that can be established that I think will address that need.”

Associate Director of High School Outreach at University of California, Irvine and candidate for Director of Admissions at Cal Poly Pomona. (courtesy of Jessica Michelle Wagoner)

When asked the same question about black enrollment, Whitenhill said, “Something that I’m definitely passionate about in terms of what it is and what I would say in terms of steps, it’s being intentional. Being able to take a look at what we currently have data wise in terms of what are the outcomes that we’re currently receiving and been reverse, kind of reverse engineering from that place to identify and let us know what that tells us. Practical application.”

Jonathan Pettigrew, director of Student Conduct and Integrity, agreed with the candidate’s sentiments on creative outreach.

“The new director must be able to use innovative technology to support the admissions process to ensure there are no equity gaps that impede upon a student’s ability to apply for admission to CPP,” Pettigrew said.

Another topic that was discussed is the prospect of removing the SAT and ACT test requirements from the admissions process. Tuck and Whitenhill both acknowledged the need for an evolution of requirements at CPP, especially during the unprecedented COVID-19 environment.

Tuck focused on the polytechnic nature of CPP being suited for the shift away from testing as an admissions requirement.

He said, “The mission of the school is polytechnic in nature, and promotes diversity… Now we can look at your high-school performance along with other factors to help guide our admissions decisions.”

Similarly, Whitenhill highlighted a concept called multifactor admissions, in which admissions offices focus on an applicant’s other facets, rather than just their test scores.

Whitenhill said, “I believe that the multifactor admissions process allows a campus to leverage some of those things a little bit more holistically to bring that in there. So, I really look forward and, would love to get that opportunity to bring that transferable skill set and bring that to bear at Cal Poly Pomona.”

CPP has already decided that the standtardized test requirements would not be used in the admiassions process for the fall 2021 semester. Many students have agreed with this decision, like Yongmin Lee, a second-year mechanical engineering student, felt that exams were biased toward people who have access to studying or preparedness resources.

“I personally think this is a step in the right direction. The use of SAT/ACT for college admissions should not be the primary focus in admitting students,” Lee said.

The final decision for the director of admissions positions will be announced in late October. The recordings for the meetings are available online with a CPP login.

Pettigrew added, “Beyond just enrollment, the new director should be truly vested in the success of our students. Therefore, the person in this role should be open to collaborations with other campus partners to help make sure our new and transfer students, once admitted, are persisting towards graduation.”

(Feature image courtesy of Kiernan McCloskey)

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