Meet Erica Johnson: Westminster’s New Vice President of Enrollment Management
Mar 18, 2019
SALT LAKE CITY – Westminster recently announced the selection of Erica Johnson, associate vice provost for admissions at Lewis & Clark College, as the college’s new vice president of enrollment management. Johnson will officially begin her position July 1, 2019.
Johnson comes to Westminster after more than 20 years of experience in admissions and with a distinguished record in strategic enrollment management, including building admissions teams, implementing and developing customer relations management systems and collaborating across campus on student recruitment and retention.
In an effort to help the campus get to know her better, the Office of Marketing and Communication interviewed Johnson for a Q&A piece for the Griffin Gazette:
Q1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A1. “Prior to my time at Lewis & Clark College, I grew up in Hyrum, Utah. My husband, Lance, is from the same community and both of us are excited about returning to Utah. We have two children: Zoe is in the fourth grade and Andrew is in the seventh grade. Andrew is working on finding a new lacrosse team and a ‘perfect’ house (which he has defined as a bigger bedroom for himself). Zoe wants to make sure she can continue with Girl Scouts and ballet lessons. They are both excited to move to Utah and be closer to their grandparents. Along for the ride is our young black lab, Nellie. I understand that Westminster is dog-friendly, but we will wait to introduce Nells to the campus community — she currently has a healthy digging habit that may not be appreciated on campus. We will be finding our three chickens a new home in Portland, but we did our research and we know that backyard chickens are allowed in Salt Lake. I appreciate a good cup of coffee, and to be honest, I will even drink a bad cup of coffee.”
Q2. What attracted you to Westminster College and the Beehive state?
Q2. “So much of Westminster matches what I value: a small college community that focuses on students and a place where relationships matter. I have received many kind messages from Westminster colleagues since the announcement of my position and each interaction confirms the impressions I had during my visit to campus. The college is moving in an exciting direction, and I look forward to working with President Dobkin and other campus colleagues in support of the college and our students.
“Since Lance and I both grew up in Utah, the Beehive state is home. We can't wait to explore the outdoors, new neighborhoods in Salt Lake, and to return to a family favorite, Red Iguana.”
Q3. What has been your biggest professional accomplishment thus far?
Q3. “I believe in the importance of the work accomplished by enrollment teams and the role we play in guiding students through their college process. This is done while also serving the goals and mission of the college. In many ways, I am most proud of the work we do on a daily basis, such as answering a question that helps a first-generation student submit their application to college, partnering with a high school colleague to better serve students, creating pathways that increase access, working with colleagues from across campus and seeing the proud faces of students and families on move-in day.
“Last year I received the Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling (PNACAC) Excellence in Admissions award. My college admissions colleagues, both college and high school, are dedicated and committed professionals. Being recognized by my fantastic peers in the Pacific Northwest was a powerful professional experience.”
Q4. What do you see as some of the biggest enrollment challenges for small, private liberal arts colleges like Westminster?
A4. “College and universities, large and small, face a number of enrollment challenges. The number of high school graduates is declining across the country. Addressing issues of affordability while assuring that the college has the resources needed to serve students is another challenge. Additionally, because of the increasing investment required to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees (time, cost, effort) we have to confront a growing public skepticism about the cost of education and whether college offers a return on these investments. Westminster has a compelling and convincing story to tell about the experiences of our students and the success of our graduates. Reinforcing the benefits of a Westminster education is important as we build strong arguments for the value of what our students experience on campus and how they are prepared for a meaningful life.”
Q5. What will your 60- and 90-day plans for Westminster look like?
A5. “A popular answer to this question is that the first 60 to 90 days are for listening. I agree that there is a lot for me to learn about Westminster's admissions practices and the college's academic and student life programs. I also know that because of the cyclical nature of admissions work, we have a narrow window of time to influence the next admissions cycle. My enrollment colleagues and I (along with our campus partners) will begin to identify new opportunities for shaping the entering class of 2020 and supporting the college's enrollment goals. Summer months in enrollment offices are busy with planning and preparing for the upcoming admissions cycle, so I look forward to arriving on campus in July and beginning this important work. I have to keep in mind that by my 90th day on campus, we will be ready for the next round of applications and will be on the road building relationships with the next group of Griffins.”
Q6. How do you think your experience at Lewis & Clark College will help you at Westminster?
A6. “Many of the values and characteristics of Westminster resonate strongly with me because of my own experiences. I have a deep appreciation for the value of the liberal arts and the power of transformational education. I also appreciate how the college's location offers students the opportunity to put their education into action and explore the natural environment.
“On the enrollment management side, from implementing important technology to exploring new admissions markets, my time at Lewis & Clark offered me a wide variety of opportunities and challenges. My role on campus includes prioritizing how we use limited resources, support innovation, create strong training and professional development programs, build relationships on and off campus and reinforce the need for data-informed decision making. I have represented the college on the road in more than 25 states (including visiting Utah high schools for the past 20 years), implemented a new CRM, created visit programs, supported efforts to increase access and diversity on campus and been involved in the admissions profession at a national level. These experiences have provided me with breadth and depth when it comes to enrollment management, and I look forward to combining my background with the expertise of Westminster's enrollment team.”
Q7. How do you foster an energetic team environment?
A7. “Building impactful teams is critical to our success. This means creating an environment where team members know that they are supported by their colleagues and everyone is ready to jump in and deliver success. It also requires a shared vision where everyone knows the important role they play in helping Westminster achieve its goals. I also think it is important that we understand the national landscape, trends in higher education and the experiences of our students. For the past several years, my colleagues and I have chosen a shared summer reading as part of our summer training. Last summer our choice was Make Your Home Among Strangers: A Novel by Jennine Capó Crucet. This book explores the experience of a first-generation college student at a residential liberal arts college and it provided a valuable launch pad for a team discussion about how we can support students from admission to graduation.
“We should also have some fun together. Working on an amazing college campus is a privilege. Where else can we cheer on a team, listen to a lecture and enjoy a beautiful performance within a few steps of our desks? I look forward to taking advantage of these opportunities across campus.”
Q8. Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time?
A8. “As a family, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking together and enjoying great food. Trying out local restaurants, shopping at the farmers market and discovering new recipes are favorite activities. I am passionate about reading, and I love public libraries (getting a new library card is in the 30-day plan). The New York Times crossword is a hobby, but I have to be honest that after Wednesday my skills are challenged. I also can't get enough of This American Life podcasts.”
Q9. Anything else you’d like to share with the campus?
A9. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity and to join Westminster's community. I am looking forward to July 1 — and to meeting students and new colleagues from across campus.”