“I wanted to be able to look at your face and see that I have helped you achieve something that alone you couldn’t do,” said Jerrett Phillips, a candidate for the position of vice president of enrollment management, at an open forum event Monday in the Houston Cole Library.
Jerrett Phillips is the current Director of Enrollment at Northeastern State University, a title that he takes pride in.
Phillips has been working in higher education for 16 years since leaving a law enforcement job. Phillips said that law enforcement changed him, and that he started to view the world in a negative way.
When asked about an experience that he was most proud of while working in higher education, Jerrett Phillips thought back to his first year at Northeastern State University. A young girl came to him crying because she felt as though she had no support in her decision to go to college.
Phillips empathized with the girl by letting her know that he once felt the same pressure. He said he hopes to bring that “level of care, compassion, and honesty” to JSU.
Phillips talked about how the girl approached him at her graduation. She did not expect him to remember her, but thanked him for his compassion on her first day.
This is something Phillips says he will never forget. He explained how his experience working in higher education and his ability to build relationships qualifies him for the position.
One of the lessons that Phillips learned when first starting out in his career was the importance of trust in enrolling students. Phillips had just started at Bacone College in Oklahoma.
The college was affiliated with the American Indian tribes and had recently taken a new turn to rebrand their college. People were confronting him on the reservation saying that the college had failed their students. Phillips learned that it takes years and plenty of small honorable gestures to gain that trust in enrollment.
This trust is something that he says the college still has not gained back. He said that this is the reason he is researching JSU and interacting with the faculty as well as the students.
Phillips also talked about what he considers most important in enrollment. He said that enrollment management is about recruitment, retention and graduation.
Phillips said that he intends to tell JSU’s story and create a legacy. He also focuses on making connections with faculty and students.
He noted how important it is to get to know the community. He ended the forum with the final statement “I think JSU is great fit for me and I hope to make a huge, incredible difference.”