New Admissions Director Makes UConn his Top Choice
By Karen Grava, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- James Morales was highly sought after
by five different schools.
An out-of-state resident, he first heard of the University of Connecticut
through the US News & World Report ranking of top colleges
and the national
championship success of the Husky basketball teams.
When he began sending out applications, he learned more about UConn's
academic programs and the state's investment in the University's physical
through UConn 2000.
A visit to the Storrs campus clinched his interest. He was impressed by the
rural setting and by the people he met. If UConn makes me an offer, he decided, I'll
Morales is not a student. But the same reasons that brought him to UConn
are also attracting record numbers of young people to the University and will form a
basis for him to reach out to prospective students and their parents in his new
job as director of undergraduate admissions.
Morales, former associate director of admissions at the University of
Minnesota-Duluth, moved to Storrs in August.
"We are very excited to have James as part of our enrollment management
team, says Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management, which
includes undergraduate admissions, the University Registrar, student financial
aid services, and new student orientation. "He brings an outstanding administrative
background and an impressive record of accomplishments. He will represent
the institution well."
In addition to his former post in admissions, Morales held concurrent
positions in academic support and student life and equity education and
services at the
University of Minnesota, and was previously a diversity admissions counselor.
He joins UConn at a time when freshman enrollment has increased
significantly. The challenge will be to maintain the momentum, he says,
and to help manage the
His goals include increasing the quality and the diversity of the student body.
"As the student demand increases, we can be more selective," he says.
"But there's a fine balance. We are a land-grant institution. Our roots are to provide
education for the sons and daughters of the state, and we must continue to
provide access to education for a wide range of people."
Morales, who won a number of awards for his work with minority groups in
Minnesota and speaks Spanish, English and Japanese, says he will build on the
University's outreach efforts to attract more students from under represented
"The most effective strategy in working to diversify the class is to establish
sincere relationships with minority communities," he says. "We need to send a
message to those communities that we care, so that they feel comfortable
sending their daughters and sons to us."
Morales knows how important that is. His parents, immigrants from Mexico,
encouraged their children to pursue an education but had little formal education
themselves. He grew up in Idaho and earned a bachelor's degree in speech
communication from the University of Utah.
In 2000, he earned an Ed.D. in higher education policy and administration
from the University of Minnesota. His dissertation was on Hispanic administrators in
Minnesota's colleges and universities.
Morales says UConn's admissions office is already doing sterling work. His
job, he says, will be to fine-tune it: "The task that's facing us now is about excellence
in terms of the service we provide."
Part of that task has to do with streamlining the admissions processes.
The University is currently switching to PeopleSoft, university-wide software that will
integrate student information systems. Morales is already familiar with PeopleSoft,
having been involved in implementing the software at the University of
Minnesota for more than five years.
He says he will also work to improve the information that's available for
prospective students on the University's website, especially for out-of-state and
international students who may not be able to visit the campus and who often
rely on the Internet for information when selecting a college in the United States.
But technology can only go so far. Improving service, says Morales, will
largely depend on building relationships - on campus, in the schools and in the
"Admissions work is all about relationships," he says.
Relationships with high school guidance counselors are key. "When high
school counselors know you're there for them and their students when they
you have another recruiter there for you," says Morales. "When a student walks
in, they'll quickly pull your name out and help show the student how the
institution could be a good fit. I want every single high school counselor to have
that kind of feeling about UConn."
September 2001 Releases
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