New President, New Vision, New Plan and Extraordinary Results at Small HBCU

John W. Dysart
 President
The Dysart Group

When I first met Dr. Lester McCorn and Ms. Archinya Ingram at a conference last January, he was a newly appointed Interim President and she was the Vice President for Finance at Clinton College in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

They both were seeking transformational change for Clinton College. The College had been struggling on the enrollment and revenue fronts for a long period of time. While many have worried about the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities over the last decade and others have questioned the value of their continued existence, Dr. McCorn has a different vision for the sector and the 124-year old college. Dr. McCorn is intent on making Clinton College “a beacon of light for today’s scholars and tomorrow’s leaders.”

Reverend Dr. Lester A McCorn

The new President’s commitment to the mission of the College is clear.

As a product of an historically Black college and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, this appointment allows me the opportunity to expand the very important mission of a faithbased institution of higher learning at a critical period in our nation’s history. I am committed to leading the College and serving the community with ‘Excellence Without Excuse.”

Although we were already half-way through the recruitment cycle, we agreed to work together on an aggressive, new admission and financial aid model to attempt to dramatically increase the number of new students for Fall 2018.

  • The financial aid process was changed to aggressively encourage admission applicants to apply for financial aid.
  • Financial aid applicants were packaged quickly, usually within 48 hours of receipt of the application.
  • A weekly report was introduced to track progress. The Director of Financial Aid was able to monitor success in securing financial aid
    applications throughout the cycle and was able to take additional steps to encourage students to apply for financial aid as needed.
  • A new emphasis was placed on telephone conversations with admission applicants to provide information and help them and their families navigate the admission process.
  • Dramatic changes were made to the physical plant on campus. New signage was posted. The Admission Office was moved and significantly upgraded
  • An enrollment initiative committee was established to discuss strategic and tactical options and to monitor outcomes and progress throughout the cycle.

Despite the late start, Clinton College was able to make extraordinary change and the successful results speak for themselves:

  • The number of admission applications increased by 15%.
  • Better communication increased the number of applicants accepted for admission my more than three-fold.
  • The number of new student enrollments increased by more than 70%
  • Clinton College enrolled an all-time record number of new students.

Dr. McCorn has since been appointed President of Clinton College and his interim title has been removed. He continues to make structural and strategic improvements to the College. A new Vice President for Enrollment has been hired. The new recruitment cycle for Fall 2019 is underway and Clinton College is poised for even greater enrollment success in the future.