- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A change in direction at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland admissions office has left one long-time director and an office administrator without a job.
The shakeup resulted in the elimination last week of the job of the director of admissions, Rich Edgar, who had worked in that office for 25 years at the public liberal arts college.
“The reorganization is really to forge a relationship between admissions and financial aid so they could operate together,” President Joseph Urgo said this week.
He said that the two departments were not working together as closely as they should, and he has been working to reorganize the offices almost since he took over as president two years ago. Urgo said there is a need for the college to return to its mission, which includes serving a diverse group of students. That can be accomplished in part by offering more need-based aid to students from low-income families.
The college president said a person has been hired to fill the new position entitled associate director of admissions and financial aid, although the name of that employee has not yet been released.
The department is overseen by Patricia Goldsmith, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid, who was hired last year.
“The admissions world among small colleges is extremely competitive,” Urgo said.
The number of applicants to the college has dropped dramatically over the last five years, from 2,729 in 2008 to just 2,003 this year, Urgo said.
During that period the college’s board of trustees also raised tuition and mandatory fees by more than $1,000; in-state tuition plus fees this year totals about $15,000.
Urgo said the college needs to expand its admissions pool, even though so far it is still getting quality classes of students. He said the yield of students, those who actually attend once offered a spot, is in the 30 percent range, which is high for a college like St. Mary’s.
“We have to do whatever is in the best interest of the college,” Urgo said.
Urgo called Edgar “a highly valued member of the community” who left a valuable legacy at the campus.
In addition to Edgar, the position of office administrator in the admissions office was also eliminated, according to college officials. Lisa Crowe, who worked at the college for 37 years, also left the college; she has retirement options available, according to sources.
“I hope the staff can continue to do the fine work they’re doing, but morale is down,” Edgar said Thursday.
He said others at the admissions office have left over the last year to pursue careers at other colleges.
There was an outpouring of support for Edgar through social media by alumni, students and former co-workers.
“It’s wonderful to see, it’s humbling,” he said of the support, which has also included phone calls from alumni he helped admit to the college during the last 25 years.
As for the reason his position, and his job, was eliminated, he said, “It’s baffling to everyone, including myself.”
He said that last month he was named a St. Mary’s College honorary alumnus at a banquet.
“I need to keep a positive outlook and move forward,” he said, adding that he might try to help counsel high school students aiming to attend college.
“It was an institution I put a quarter-century of work into,” Edgar said.