Director of Admissions to leave Eastern


Cassie Buchman

Chris Dearth, director of admissions, is leaving Jan. 22 to pursue a career at Wesley College in Delaware.

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

Director of Admissions Chris Dearth will be leaving his position at Eastern on Jan. 22 to become the vice president of enrollment management at Wesley College in Delaware.

“The timing wasn’t great. I would have liked to be here longer, but it was just an offer I couldn’t turn down,” Dearth said.

President David Glassman and Vice President for Academic Affairs Blair Lord have begun discussing appointing an interim director of admissions, with a national search for a permanent director being likely during the upcoming summer.

“At this time at the university with the budget challenges we have, we are not doing external searches for many positions,” Lord said.

The university is looking to do as much internally as possible.

Lord said the search for an interim director should be completed before Dearth leaves, and he will be talking to the admissions office about the search.

“I don’t want a gap in leadership,” Lord said.

Because of the short notice, Lord said he did not have much prior warning about Dearth’s departure.

“He told me privately before he made the announcement,” Lord said. “He had gotten an offer and he had a very short window of time to respond so he got ahold of me quickly.”

Lord said there was nothing he could do to counter Dearth’s decision, as the job was a step up for Dearth.

“It was all perfectly logical and I knew I was sort of out of luck,” Lord said.

Lord said he would have preferred to have Dearth working as director of admissions for a year or two longer, but Dearth is still leaving behind significant improvements in the operations of admissions.

“I think we’ve put the right pieces and procedures in place and we have the right people largely in place,” Lord said. “I’m much less concerned about Eastern’s ability to conduct admissions successfully than I was when I hired Mr. Dearth.”

While Lord wishes the change were not happening, he said he is not panicking.

He said Eastern has everything in place to achieve the goal of improving enrollment.

“Right now I think our need is to continue to work on things we have put into place with Mr. Dearth and the other associate directors down there,” Lord said. “We’re always looking for new opportunities but for right now we’re not looking to re-invent the office; we’re looking to flesh it out.”

Lord said the main challenge the director of admissions will have to figure out is that the demographic is working against the state of Illinois and public universities.

“The environment in the state of Illinois with the budget situation is working against everybody,” Lord said. “The challenge is learning to climb this mountain without a whole lot of rocks falling down on our heads while we’re doing it.”

Glassman said the national search would begin with selecting a search committee who will solicit applications for the position and select the group of finalists.

These finalists will visit Eastern and meet with groups of students, faculty, staff and administration who will provide an evaluation of what they see as the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

As vice president at Wesley College, Dearth will have a cabinet level position and will oversee freshman and transfer admissions as well as international and graduate level admissions and marketing.

Dearth was offered the position in mid-December and said the job was a great opportunity that allowed him to be closer to his family, though he is a little upset the change happened so quickly.

“We are doing a lot of great things, and that will absolutely continue,” Dearth said. “It’s not one person that recruits all the students and admits all the students. It really is a campus effort.”

Dearth said he “absolutely” thinks Eastern will be able to improve enrollment after he leaves.

“I definitely think President (David) Glassman’s vision has been in line with what we’ve been doing as an admissions office,” Dearth said. “We’ve always talked about being more aggressive and recruiting more students and getting more students to campus and he’s a huge supporter of all of those efforts.”

Dearth also said while he is leaving, he believes Eastern will in good shape heading into the future.

“I have no doubt we’re going to be in good shape going forward,” Dearth said.

Dearth said all of Eastern’s competitors are dealing with challenges regarding the state’s budget crisis and enrollment.

“We have a lot of people working hard, keeping an eye on our retention rate,” Dearth said. “We’re looking for new students for international and graduate programs as well. It’s not just the traditional undergraduate and transfer students.”

Dearth said he wants the focus on strategic recruitment, Eastern’s limited resources and getting students to campus to let them see Eastern.

The Admissions Office is in the process of recruiting students for the graduating class of 2017.

Dearth said as far as the day-to-day stuff goes, the Admissions Office will still keep moving forward.

As far as the new interim goes, Dearth said the university definitely wants someone who understands the marketplace and the challenges that Illinois and its public universities face.

“Someone that can bring some exciting new ideas as well,” Dearth said. “This is a profession that evolves every year and there’s always little things you can pick up from your competitors.”

Glassman said Dearth would be missed as director of admissions.

“He helped to develop a new recruitment plan for the university as well as participated in developing the associated communication and marketing plans,”
Glassman said. “His leadership led to enhanced training for our campus tour guides, improved visit day activities and more strategic use of our campus recruitment representatives, among many other initiatives.”

Brittany Trimble, the special events coordinator for admissions, said it was disappointing to hear Dearth was leaving but she was proud for him to be able to move up.

“My personal self is just getting ready for all of our Yield events, admitted student days, Chicagoland receptions everything we have coming up in the next few months,” Trimble said.

Dearth said the person coming into the position of director of admissions will find an eager campus and it is an exciting time for Eastern.

“I have become a Panther, and I will be rooting for the Panthers for the rest of my life,” Dearth said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]