Enrollment leaders make extraordinary efforts to bring in each year’s class. And while they may be ultimately responsible for recruitment outcomes, they can’t do it alone. In today’s environment, recruiting students is a campus-wide effort that requires a sustained commitment from faculty, staff, and athletics.

In this episode, we’ll be exploring how enrollment and admissions leaders can form stronger, more collaborative relationships with colleagues in other departments. Joining us in the conversation is Brad Pochard, AVP for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions at Furman University.

We discuss:

  • The importance of transparency in building trust
  • Strategies for engaging faculty and inspiring them to take an increased role in recruitment
  • Tips for aligning coaches with your schools larger enrollment goals
  • Important differences in how DI and DIII coaches approach recruitment
  • How to cultivate a culture of mutual support with colleagues in other departments.

Transcript

Jarrett Smith:
You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab. I’m your host, Jarrett Smith.

Jarrett Smith:
Welcome to the Higher Ed Marketing Lab, I’m Jarrett Smith. Each episode is my job to engage with some of the brightest minds in higher education in the broader world of marketing to bring you actionable insights, you can use to level up your marketing and enrollment efforts. This is the third installment in our VP summer series. A podcast mini-series, focusing on the unique challenges facing senior enrollment and marketing leaders.

In this episode, we’ll be discussing how senior leaders can build strong collaborative relationships with faculty, coaches, and staff. Joining us in the conversation is Brad Pochard, AVP for enrollment and Dean of admissions at Furman University. We’ll also be joined by Echo Delta’s own Laura Martin Fedich, who’s my co-host for the VP of summer series. We begin by talking about the role of transparency and building trust. And Brad shares some of the specific types of information he shared with faculty to inspire greater academic involvement in student recruitment.

Then we discuss how Brad has worked with colleagues in athletics to align their efforts with the institution’s broader recruitment goals. And Brad outlines some of the key differences between DI and DIII schools when it comes to athletics’ impact on enrollment. Finally, we explore some of the ways Brad and his colleagues have built a culture of mutual support and appreciation, and some of the key lessons he learned from his father, who spent 41 years in admissions and financial aid. Laura and I really enjoyed learning from Brad. And this episode is full of great advice for any leader looking to strengthen their professional relationships. So without further ado, here’s our conversation with Brad Pochard.

Brad, welcome to the show.

Brad Pochard:
Thank you, very happy to be with you all today.

Jarrett Smith:
Awesome. I think this is going to be a great topic. Before we jump into that great conversation, I’m wondering if you could just give us a quick snapshot of your professional background and the work you do at Furman.

Brad Pochard:
Yeah, I’d be happy to. And again, thank you very much for having me. It’s an honor to be with you guys today. My name is Brad Pochard. I serve as ADP for enrollment and Dean of admissions at Furman University. I’ve been with Furman since 2008. So going into year 13, which is hard to believe. Some of it feels like it has gone in a blink of an eye and other parts feel like maybe it’s been a little bit longer than that. But prior to my arrival at Furman, I was working at my Alma mater, which is Wittenberg University up in Springfield, Ohio. I graduated from there and began work in their admissions office, pretty much right after graduation.

Had the opportunity to work for them for about seven years and transitioned down here as director of admissions in the fall of ’08. And over the course of these 13 years here, I’ve been able to take on some additional responsibility in the office. And it’s just been wonderful, it’s been great. I’ve adapted to the south, I love the people, love the weather. So it’s been a great transition and a wonderful profession to be in.

Jarrett Smith:
I’m wondering if you could just start off by, I guess, paint the picture for us a little bit. Why is getting relationships right with folks in other areas of your school, outside of your functional areas so important? And I guess the flip side of that is, what’s the cost of getting those relationships wrong for?

Brad Pochard:
Yeah. And those are a couple of big questions, and let me start with the first one about, the way in which we are able to establish partnerships and develop those partnerships across campus as we go through this. During my time at [Wittenberg 00:03:44] and even at Furman, people hear me say all the time that it takes a campus to recruit, retain, and graduate a student. So first and foremost, you can’t do admissions work solely within admissions. If you want to be perennially successful, you need to establish those partnerships outside of your office. Where the admission’s office then is really the conduit to the marketplace, to the prospective students, whoever we may be working with at the time, to just simply relay that information and develop that rapport and develop that trust.

I really believe that, and that’s really at the core of how we operate. That in addition to an internal strategy and philosophy, that imitation is the best form of flattery. We strive to have wonderful practices, protocols strategies in place where we can exude confidence internally, but also then relay that confidence to our prospective students, to our applicant pool. When you have confidence in your process, it gives you the ability to be confident and to be transparent across campus. So those are two kind of foundational things that are important for me, as I’ve gone through and this office has gone through establishing those trusts and relationships across campus. When you have those two things, it gives you the ability to go and be transparent with your constituents, people that you’re working with.

It’s obvious on campus in higher education, faculty play a big role. And with faculty governance and tenure, that’s sometimes a game changer in how you operate and some of the things that you need to accomplish and the information that you need to relay. You of course then have your staff on campus that have a particular buy-in, that some tend to forget a little bit, as far as what staff can do to support you through this process. You have your alumni, your current students. So all of those constituent constituents are important in the work that we do. So for us, and my approach tends to be a whole lot of transparency, a whole lot of sharing information. When you do that, it does make you a little vulnerable.

It does open you up for critique and that’s okay, especially if you have those two foundational aspects in place. If you’re confident in your process and you are able to establish that trust across your campus, you are able to open up and be transparent in how we do our work. So I would say that’s the process. And there’s different strategies and approaches that you can take depending on who you’re speaking with, whether that be development, whether that be your board, whether that be your faculty, your admissions committee. There’s different approaches that I’ve learned that might be useful to discuss at some point.

Jarrett Smith:
You mentioned transparency. I think that’s an interesting one to pursue for a minute. I think transparency, when we hear that word we think, “Oh, that’s a good thing. We want transparency.” But on a day-to-day basis, how do you make that happen? What are some ways that that transparency plays out in concrete terms, I think is what I’m getting at?

Brad Pochard:
Yeah. Let me answer that in two ways. One, it maybe transparency on a daily basis with the staff, the admissions and financial aid staff, that is going to be much more on a daily basis. And then I’ll give you an example maybe with faculty or the admission’s committee of some examples that we’ve done, that may not be transparency on a daily basis, but it’s transparent in a way that it lets them understand some of the challenges and competing goals that we have. So we are currently in the midst of… And you’ll feel for me hopefully, when I say this, we’ve lost seven admissions counselors in the last probably six weeks. Lost, not in necessarily a bad way, they’re pursuing other options professionally. So they’re deciding to leave Furman and go take on other adventures.

And so we’re in the midst of training a new staff. Brand new admissions counselors seven of them, it’s about two thirds of the staff, from our counseling team, on the front end and admissions. And getting them for example, to understand what their role is, especially at a small private liberal arts college, in the mid market, at a price point that is awfully high, that competes with state flagships as their number one competitor. And helping them understand… They’re really focused now for example on, “Where am I going to travel, if at all this fall? How do I login to Slate? What in the world is financial aid?” Those kinds of things, they’re very all of those things that are right in front of them.

But they also need to understand how they fit into the bigger picture. So sharing with them honestly, that the college operates on that tuition revenue, if we fail, the college fails. And that’s a lot of pressure to put on a 23 or 24 year old first-year admission’s counselor, so we dilute that a little bit. But that’s an example of transparency and how they need to understand that what they do on a daily basis, when they’re meeting with families, where they’re responding to a college counselor, all of that matters. And it helps them understand where they fit in the big picture and create some buy-in, and create some understanding of how important their job is. A real quick second example would be, sharing data. Might be with our faculty admissions committee, for example, or it might be with even our cabinet, my colleagues on the cabinet, and sometimes even board members.

And I’ll give you an example that just happened this year. So really one of Furman’s challenges is yield. We have a robust applicant pool. We had a record number of applications this year, I’m sure a lot of you listening did, but our challenge was yield. And I’ve referenced our price point, I’ve referenced our position in the market and I’ve referenced our competition. So our yield suffered this year. And one of the misconceptions is, if you just get students on campus and provide them scholarship money, they’ll enroll. Okay. Well, the first part of that, we were only able to do in a limited basis this year, of gets students on campus. And then of course, due to the pandemic, everyone struggled in that capacity. But the second being scholarships. We offer for our full ride, full tuition in are basically three quarters, tuition scholarships, we had less than a 10% yield on those award winners.

So those of course are students at the highest of the academic food chain in our applicant pool, in our admit pool. There certainly have options, and we were discounting them with significant scholarship and they didn’t enroll. And so, one of the exercises that I went through is, I shared with other members on our campus, for example, the [Duke 00:10:58] scholarship was our full tuition scholarship. If they didn’t choose to enroll at Furman, where did they go? Some of the places were really strong, and some places where maybe not so strong. And it gave our board, our cabinet and faculty a pause a little bit and say, “Wow, I cannot believe so-and-so chose, name that institution over Furman, especially if we gave them a full ride.” And it goes to show them that it goes back to that, it takes a campus, it’s not just scholarship. It’s not just a campus visit, it’s the relationships and partnerships that they establish along the way,

Jarrett Smith:
And now for a short break. Hey everyone, Jarrett here. The past year has brought so many challenges for the higher education enrollment community. And if you’re like many enrollment leaders, you’re looking forward to being on the other side of census. So you can finally step back and think about your strategy for the upcoming year. That’s why Jeff [Calais 00:11:59] and I will be hosting Post-up. A free four-part webinar series for enrollment leaders starting September 29th.

From search to yield, to campus visits, Jeff and I will engage with Echo Delta’s enrollment experts to help you come back even stronger and smarter than before. Visit echodelta.co/post-up to register. That’s echodelta.co/post-up, all one word. I hope you’ll join us. And now back to the show.

If somebody is listening to this and they say, “Okay, Brad said transparency was good. I’m going to start being more transparent with folks.” I guess my question is, how might someone take that advice and maybe go wrong with it? What are some guard rails you might put around that, so that you’re being transparent in the right ways, that are going to be productive for your relationships?

Laura Martin Fedich:
Yeah. And throw in there, I keep thinking about this two-thirds of the staff that you’ve just replaced, which is not unusual. It’s a few more than usual, but we as enrollment people are used to losing a lot of our young folks, some for good things usually. But you want to get everybody on the same page, so they’re being appropriately transparent as Jarrett was just saying. So roll that in there Brad, how do you… And it could be for some of those [inaudible 00:13:20], is it their first job? And do they know what to say and what not to say? That’s got to be scary, right?

Brad Pochard:
Thank you for that additional commentary. Because with transparency comes a whole lot of trust, and you need to have confidence in your staff as well about when they understand to share information and when not to. And I can give you countless examples of times in which, I wanted to be a little bit more transparent and couldn’t. And maybe a time or two when I was a little too transparent and had to backpedal a little bit. So you really need to know your audience. You need to know who you’re providing information to. And for those listening on the podcast, I would venture to say you pretty well know that. There’s times that you can be pretty an open book, and maybe that’s smaller settings, maybe that’s colleagues on campus, amongst the cabinet, when you can truly say, “Here’s the challenges, here are the competing goals.”

Brad Pochard:
In front of faculty, you just have to take a different position. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be honest, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t share reliable or tell the truth, for example, you just have to be understanding of your audience. And so Laura, the staff for example, is a good one. And I joke with them that, “You meet with a family, I don’t want you thinking about net tuition revenue. And if I don’t get this student to enroll that somebody’s going to lose their job.” That might be the big, big picture, of we miss our class, people might lose their job, just in the way that the financials work on a college campus. But that’s an example of, “I want you to understand the big picture, but I don’t want that to necessarily influence how you go about your daily operation.”

So Jarrett, let me see if I can give you like a really good concrete examples. So one of the things that our faculty like to think they have power over is, who we admit. Okay. In our faculty constitution and in our faculty bylaws, they in fact have the ability to set admission standards. But a lot of times faculty think that that’s who we admit and who we deny, on an applicant basis. That’s not necessarily the case. The case is they have the ability to set the parameters of who we admit based on the curriculum that they’ve earned in high school. This would serve as an example of providing both some transparent information and also backpedaling rather quickly on both sides.

At one point I thought it was a good idea to invite them into the application review process, and this would be specifically what the faculty admissions committee. They began to backpedal rather quickly, after I shared with them our timeline, our guidelines, the volume and the amounts, and the time in which they would need to evaluate, or be with us as we are evaluating this process. The part of that that gets a little bit dicey for example, is faculty don’t always understand that we are receiving a segment of the overall population. All college going students are applying to college in one enrollment cycle, and we are getting a very, very, very small segment percentage of that overall going population.

So in a lot of times you have to review these applications within that context, that you can’t compare our applicant pool to an Ivy League, maybe where you graduated from. And you certainly then can’t compare our applicant pool to a school maybe ranked lower than you. That you have to understand those pressures and how things fit within your overall enrollment cycle. There’s tons of data, financial data, parent occupation, education attainment, that are all signals of affinity and yield that play into our decisions, that we don’t get into with certain segments for the faculty, for example. So I’m not sure if I’m answering your question specifically, but I think the key there is understanding your audience and knowing and trusting when you can be very transparent, and when you might need to curb that just a little bit.

Jarrett Smith:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Brad, one thing as I was listening to you talk though, is it seems like there was good utility in pulling back the curtain a little bit. Like it was beneficial for you to pull back the curtain a little bit and to say, “Hey, let me invite you into this process. And you can see how it actually works and realize there’s more to it than maybe it looks like on the outside.” Is that fair to say?

Brad Pochard:
Well, sure. And maybe I’ll get a chuckle from those that are listening when I say this, but everybody is an admissions professional and everybody’s a marketing professional, until they actually sit in that seat and do it. “What do you mean you can’t get 700 kids to come to Furman every year, look at this place?” Well they don’t understand all of the complexity that goes into it, the competing goals, the competing priorities, who we’re competing with, our price point. Those are all factors that someone on the outside looking in who may have wonderfully good intentions, doesn’t understand why a student wouldn’t say yes to Furman.

And the reality is, about 15% of our students say yes to Furman, which means we have to admit more. And when they begin to do the math and they see how things work, on top of, then I go back to those foundational pieces. If you’re not buttoned up and being effective, efficient with your practices and in how you do things, if you’re vulnerable there, it’s more difficult to be transparent. But if you’re buttoned up and you’re efficient in what you do, you can seek some advice and wisdom and maybe sometimes some understanding from those who would begin to realize how difficult this work is.

Laura Martin Fedich:
Did you inherit those processes that were just really in place beautifully, or was it a little bit more hard fought for you?

Brad Pochard:
I would say at Furman, it was probably right in the middle. We did some things really well, and we did some things that we had to work on. And I remember inheriting basically a 50% admit rate and a 33% yield. It was consistent, you could bank on it. If you look at the data leading up to 2008 and then that entering class of 2009. And fortunate for me, my first class was that financial recession, when I didn’t have a 50% yield and certainly did not have a 33% yield. So there were some things that were running really well, but I would say that some of our enrollment tactics were a little lazy. Weren’t maybe working as hard as we could have been.

And if you think back to ’08, ’09 and ’10, that recession really challenged a lot of schools, very similar to some of the challenges we’re facing now. And we had to learn how to recruit, to be honest with you. How to emphasize value, even a campus tour for example, we weren’t selling at our price point. We certainly didn’t have our faculty involved like we do now, we weren’t leveraging athletics like we are now. So we had some good things in place, but we’ve had to really implement some new strategies and new tactics.

Jarrett Smith:
So just rounding out our faculty conversation, because I know we’ve touched on them a couple of times. I’m curious, just some of the practices you have in place today to build those strong connections in with faculty and to bring them into your process. Because as you said, it takes an entire campus to recruit and retain these students. So, what sorts of things are you doing on the faculty side of the house?

Brad Pochard:
Yeah. We’ve gone from begging to have faculty involved, to being much more strategic in how we include and involve our faculty. There’s absolutely a climate on campus now of, how can we help. For a longest time, sharing data at faculty meetings with the faculty admissions committee, with the provost, with academic affairs, that yield doubles when students interact with faculty period. We had a 51% yield for students when they were on campus who had a class meeting or a faculty appointment, and then it was like 22% for those who didn’t. So that’s simple nugget of data really was the impetus for us to get our faculty involved. Honestly, we’re at a point now of, how do we get the right faculty involved? And how do we use them in the correct ways, from the perspective of being resourceful with their time? We don’t want to waste their time.

So we don’t just let prospective students say they want a faculty appointment, because most of the time it’s mom filling out the campus visit questionnaire and the students, the last thing the student wants to do. And then that person just sits there or they say they’re going to meet and they get in the car and they go, and then the faculty member’s like, “They didn’t show up.” And it’s a waste of time. So we’re very intentional in how, and when and where we use faculty. We’ve incorporated our students a lot more in the process in some of those situations, especially for rising sophomores, juniors and pre applicants, and then we really reserve our faculty time for students who have applied. We’re at a stage now where we basically have a faculty liaison for every academic department and every major.

So if a student, an applicant says, “I would like to meet with a professor in psychology.” We’ve established a relationship with psychology to say, “Who is our go-to person? Who do we send this person to, or who do we send this meeting request to?” Our provost and our academic affairs are instrumental in that. If we begin to have a department lagging, it’s not necessarily the admission’s enrollment office going to that department. And we simply say to the provost, “Hey I’m having a little trouble with name the program,” and the provost at the time will make sure that happens. I’ve been pushing for faculty recognition for those who are overly involved as part of the tenure and promotion, I’ve not been successful yet in that point, but we continue to emphasize how important that faculty interaction is. And you can link it to athletics.

A recruit who wants to go play volleyball isn’t going to choose a volleyball program when they’ve not met the head coach. And very similar, if a student wants to major in psychology, they want to meet a psychology major, they want to talk to a psychology professor. The admission’s office can go so far, but at some point they want to know, “Who is going to be my advisor? Who’s going to be teaching me? Who’s going to be mentoring me. Who am I going to be able to lean on?” And again, at our price point in the market, it’s essential that we do that.

Laura Martin Fedich:
Yeah. Hey, speaking of athletics, I’d love for you to talk about maybe some of your tips, some things that you’ve learned about developing relationships with coaches. Because they’re very competitive, there are different groups of people to work with. And sometimes I know in my career, I found that I was at odds with… my goals were different than theirs. Let’s just put it that way. So it can be a tricky one. But I know it’s something you’ve done well, could you talk to that just a little bit?

Brad Pochard:
I’d be happy to, and I think we could do a whole podcast on coaches and athletic-

Laura Martin Fedich:
I think you’re right.

Brad Pochard:
… athletic recruitment. And [crosstalk 00:26:01].

Jarrett Smith:
I’ll write that down, that’s our follow-up.

Laura Martin Fedich:
There you go.

Brad Pochard:
And being a former student-athlete myself, I tell the coaches all the time look, “Probably the only person on campus that wants to win more than me is you, in your particular sport. So we’re not in the business of not recruiting kids, no.” And so I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s trust and it’s relationship. They need to understand that we’re all in this thing together. Wittenberg was division three and my approach at the division three level was remarkably different than what it is right now at Furman being a division one school. Division three coaches are much more an extension of the admission’s office.

A lot of division schools, and I would even say Wittenberg included at this point, are using athletics as an enrollment strategy. Division three schools often have many more sports than division one programs, and they’re using that as a way in which to garner enrollment. So at the division three model, it was reining coaches in a little bit. Making sure that they’re not overstepping their boundaries, walking into high schools when they shouldn’t be walking into high schools, going off script with marketing materials, creating their own marketing materials, whatever it may be. And so reigning the coaches in on a D3 level and making sure they’re in alignment with what we’re trying to accomplish as an institution, was one of those key things.

At a division one school, it’s all about, “Who can we get in? Who can we offer? Who’s allowed to sign the scholarship agreement?” Those types of things. And because volume is different at a division one school versus a division three school… I didn’t necessarily anticipate that coming in. But the volume of athletic recruitment is much smaller at a division one school than it is a division three school. So working with those coaches to basically ensure that, one, they’re on budget, do you in fact have the scholarship that you are… I’m expecting that happens to follow under my purview here now? Two, does the student meet enrollment standards? And three being a division one, we’re so kind of a subset, it’s not power five, so it’s not quite as intensive as it would be at some power five institutions, but the athletic timeline is much different than a traditional admission’s timeline.

So being able to work with coaches to be ahead of schedule, if you will, for application deadlines, notification deadlines, those types of things. But coaches need parameters. And what I’ve learned with them is they just simply want to know, what are the rules of the game? And that shouldn’t surprise you as a coach. They’re their coaches, they want to develop a strategy to win. “And just tell me the rules.” What are the rules? And then they’re going to develop a strategy and leverage that to be competitive. And sometimes it’s like, “Oh, well, okay. That’s now a new rule, you can’t do that.” As far as with what they’re doing. But for the most part here, our coaches understand that those parameters are in place for student success. They don’t want to recruit someone who’s going to struggle or be a challenge, that’s only going to lead to additional challenges.

Jarrett Smith:
Brad, you mentioned cultivating the sense of, “Hey, we’re all in this together. And building that trust.” Part of that, I think you addressed and saying, “Well, I recognize that they want clear rules to the game, and so I can help them with that. So they understand how they can be successful.” And I’m curious, is there anything else that you would point to, to say, “This is a way that I intentionally use to build trust and alignment with my coaches.”

Brad Pochard:
I am routinely, either myself or our director of admissions, we’re routinely in front of them before they go out on recruiting trips, or the recruiting season. Helping them understand, what are our priorities, what are we trying to accomplish. And here, how can you help us? They don’t always think that way. They always think in a way of… They think by just winning games, they’re helping us, and of course that does help. But there are ways in which they can help us. And let me give you an example. Furman is trying to really expand its recruiting footprint even, but prior to… COVID has hurt this. But beyond the Southeast, about 60% of our enrollment comes from North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. So we were openly trying to develop new markets. And one of the best way to do that is athletics.

So for example, the mid Atlantic or Northeast, asking those coaches to align their recruiting strategies with our recruiting strategies. Don’t just recruit in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, branch out and help us. We are a division one football program and we play the quote unquote money game every year. Let’s not play Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson every year, how about we go play UVA or let’s go play Rutgers, or let’s go play University of Maryland and some of our strategic markets. That’s an example that it can’t be just the admission’s office, and working with our coaches to help them understand how they can help us. Going back to transparency, we work off of certain parameters and who we want to admit and how we admit, and making sure that they have clear understanding of who’s admissible and who’s not. The rule of thumb there is, coaches should not be evaluating transcripts.

Okay. At one point, we were very clear in what we were looking for in a GPA and coaches don’t understand core academic GPA, they don’t understand AP and IB and college prep, nor should they necessarily. And so coaches would hand us transcripts with a 3.8, but when you look at it, it’s not necessarily the strength of curriculum that we’re looking for. And when you recalculate a core GPA, it’s really a 2.5, when you remove certain classes. So those would be some things that we’ve put into place, that we’ve given them the rules of the game, but we’ve also helped them understand how they can help us by, routinely being involved with them, meeting with them. We’re fine to meet with recruits and run them through the admissions process, those types of things where it’s a partnership.

Jarrett Smith:
So I would love to talk about colleagues in other areas of the campus. I’ve heard you talk in the past about campus safety or other folks playing a role in this. I haven’t asked also if like marketing, do they report up to you? Or that’s… Just wondering if you could speak to some of those other important relationships outside of faculty and athletics, and…

Brad Pochard:
Definitely. And, we maybe mentioned it a little bit already that staff tend to be some of those partners on campus that don’t get recognized often as much as they should. Marketing does not report through the enrollment division. They are certainly involved heavily in what we do, but there’s not a direct reporting line to us for that. But when you think about marketing and you think about development, we’re very intentional in those relationships, and just little things that we do. Certainly for example, everyone knows that May 1st is the national candidate reply date. And we get good luck and thumbs up and people will send us donuts on those days, and those kinds of things. And especially in an enrollment driven institution, which most of us are, May 1st you’re either celebrating or you’re not celebrating. And so people recognize that.

But we try to do the same thing, for example, like with development. If they are at the end of a particular campaign or we’re at the end of the fiscal year when gifts tend to be flying in, or I’m really good friends with our chief investment officer. And when I know it’s the end of the fiscal year, and it’s their long hours that… I’ll go put a six pack by his car and say, “Go home.” Or something like that, to at least recognize that other offices have priorities and deadlines that may not be as visible and large, if you will, as is, “Did we get the class or not?” And just acknowledging those, is really, really important.

Our police division and our facilities people, are huge. It’s routine for our Furman police to recognize that a campus visitor with New Jersey license plate is driving down the wrong way of a one-way street, trying to find the welcome center. And instead of going lights and sirens and flashing and pulling them over and the whole thing, they try to get their attention and figure out who they are, and get them to the right spot. Those things go a really long way. And we just like our faculty, our coaches, we’re in front of those people, they have to understand where they fit, just like a brand new admission’s counselor. Our facilities staff now, will not do anything to this campus without checking with our office first.

I’m looking outside my window right now and they’re redoing our fountain, the big fountain that people see when people come in. And the pipes had rusted, and it’s a three-week project, and I must have gotten 15 emails on this of, “When is the best time to do it? Here’s how long it’s going to take. We’re very sorry for this inconvenience, winter admissions visitors is going to be low.” All those kinds of things. That takes time. It wasn’t all that long ago on one of our orientation days in our biggest auditorium, they were doing the roof on the auditorium in which we were doing student orientation. Come on, we can’t be doing that.

And so we’ve gotten to the point where they won’t mow the yard in front of the welcome center after eight o’clock in the morning, for fear that a family might be early, those types of things, so we’ve developed that all-in buy-in, if you will, as far as working with our staff. And there’s all of those stories about the dining hall person, who’s instrumental in your relationship and just saying, thank you to them. Giving them a Furman t-shirt or some of that, all of the giveaway stuff that we have. We’re very open in providing thank yous [inaudible 00:37:35] to the campus for their involvement.

Jarrett Smith:
If I could jump in, one theme that just pops out across all these different groups that you’re talking about is this idea of just showing respect for, and gratitude for the contributions that other people are making, that impact to you. Or maybe even if they don’t impact you, but just recognizing the contributions of others. And demonstrating that, and then maybe not always, but it sounds like it tends to be reciprocated when you’re giving that out.

Brad Pochard:
It’s an interest… I appreciate you making those connections because it’s a little bit of a vulnerable position to be in. At the end of the day, we being the admission’s office or enrollment, is responsible for whatever head count we want with a certain characteristic at a certain discount, bringing in a certain amount of revenue. We’re individually responsible for that. If we miss or make it, nobody else is responsible other than this office. However, we cannot do it by ourselves. And so we have to accept that responsibility. But if we try to insulate and only do it ourselves, there’s no way you can accomplish it. So you have to open yourself up and be vulnerable to allowing other people in, who aren’t necessarily accountable, but you need them to be successful.

Laura Martin Fedich:
That makes me think of your community. So you’re in a smallish town, smallish medium-sized, and it’s a great town. And you’ve got some international companies nearby, you’ve got some other big universities down the road. Do you ever find yourself feeling like you want to connect with people in the community and say, “I’m going to send my prospective students and their parents to your restaurant, you all better be nice to them.” Does this branch out into the community at all?

Brad Pochard:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it does. It really does. And Greenville, we sit just a few miles north of Greenville. Which is, depending on who you ask, the fastest growing city east of the Mississippi. We’re about an hour and a half south of Charlotte, and about two hours north of Atlanta, it’s called the [Char-lanta 00:39:56] corridor.

Laura Martin Fedich:
I’ve never heard that. That’s awesome.

Brad Pochard:
Char-lanta corridor, I 85. [crosstalk 00:40:02].

Jarrett Smith:
That’s okay. We have [Orlan-Par 00:40:04] down here.

Brad Pochard:
There you go.

Jarrett Smith:
Super catchy.

Laura Martin Fedich:
I think I have cousins with those names. [crosstalk 00:40:10].

Brad Pochard:
There you go. Yeah. If we start to see children coming through with Char-lanta or Orlan-Par, we know we’ve made an impact, right?

Laura Martin Fedich:
That’s right.

Brad Pochard:
But we do. We do leverage our location heavily. And we are intentional in hosting some events in downtown Greenville. We do have relationships with restaurants, hotels, particular meeting spaces that we meet with. And for example, the owner of the Greenville Drive, they’re now the AAA affiliate for the Red Sox, is a huge Furman supporter. And we do all types of events in the Drive state, and either during games or even just using the event space when games are not going on, and using their video board and those types of things. And so yes, that’s important.

When students and families are making a decision, the surrounding area is critical. Whether that’s for outcomes of internships and research, and employment opportunities, but even just for some fun and places to engage. And for some of our competitors and peers, having a more urban setting right down the road, is huge for us. Where some of the schools that we compete with cannot offer that. Clemson for example, is intruding on our space a little bit. Don’t know if I have any Clemson listeners, but they’re trying to make Greenville Orangeville.

Laura Martin Fedich:
No.

Brad Pochard:
And it’s a little bit of a David versus Goliath fight, when we’re trying to retain Greenville as Furman’s home, as that power of oranges is huge. But even some of our peers and competitors who are in close proximity to us, understand what we have here with Greenville.

Jarrett Smith:
Brad, it’s been such a good conversation, you’ve had just some really interesting, I think, valuable things to say. I want to ask you one last question, which is, I know that you are a second generation enrollment and admissions guy. And I’m just curious, your dad was in the business before you. And I’m just wondering, are there any lessons, things that you picked up from your dad along the way that you find yourself applying today?

Sure. Well, thank you for recognizing that, and mentioning that. My dad was 41 years in college admissions and financial aid, serving a multitude of institutions, finally ended his career at Spring Hill College down in Mobile, Alabama. And growing up on a college campus was… at the time I didn’t necessarily realize it, but it was really a unique opportunity. And I’d like to think I’m providing that same experience to my two boys who are 12 and seven, who for good or bad are widely known on this campus. I would love to think it’s always for the good, but they are widely known across this campus. Whether it be at basketball games or camps or whatever. The experience that I’d had growing up as well as they’re having is instrumental. My dad passed away a couple years ago, but there were multiple, multiple conversations that we had.

And I think about May 1st conversations or conversations leading up to May 1st. Or frustrations that I was sharing with him and words of wisdom that he provided. And he used to always say, “Don’t let them get to you. Put on a nice suit and don’t let them get to you.” And then there’s a lot to be said for that, I’ve just been confident. And again, I think in some ways, my transparency and just the way I deal with people and establishing rapport, certainly where some of the things that he did. And watching him and learning from him, I didn’t necessarily realize I was learning how to do this. And I joke all the time, I didn’t grow up necessarily wanting to be in admissions and financial aid, it just happened.

But the longer I do this, I see why he was able to do 41 years. This is great work. It can be stressful and it can be sometimes overwhelming, but at the end of the day, we get the opportunity to work with students and their families every single day, who are making life changing decisions. That’s pretty cool. I don’t know if there’s a whole lot of people that get to do that every single year. The investment that families are making, the decision that they’re being asked to make and the role that we play, is a pretty cool thing. And I think that’s what had him in the business for so long. And has now for me finishing year 20… Gosh, finishing year 20, is crazy. But I owe a lot to both of my parents, but in particular my father, who was able to do this job for a really long time.

Jarrett Smith:
That is really beautiful Brad, and thank you for sharing that. If folks are listening to this and maybe want to reach out and connect with you, I don’t know if you’re available on the various social media channels, if you have any active digital presence, or if there’s a good way for people to connect with you. But any preferred ways they might do that?

Brad Pochard:
Sure. Of course, the old way of email and phone is obviously perfectly fine, and I’d be happy to share those things here. I do have an activity on LinkedIn. I am on all those different social media stuff, but probably the best way would be LinkedIn and email, which is just Brad, B-R-A-D .Pochard, P-O-C-H-A-R-D @furman.edu, happy to chat amongst any of these topics or others. I’m sure there’s some two-way dialogue that I’d be happy to have.

Laura Martin Fedich:
Well, you’re doing this right. I admire you very much for the work that you’ve done there, it’s really impressive.

Brad Pochard:
Well, Laura, with your background too, that means a lot. I appreciate that for sure. And like I said, it’s great work, I enjoy it. And I feel fortunate to be able to be doing what I’m doing.

Jarrett Smith:
Well, Brad, thank you so much for your time today, it has been a real pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.

Brad Pochard:
You’re most welcome. Thanks, guys.

Jarrett Smith:
The Higher Ed Marketing Lab is produced by Echo Delta. A full-service enrollment marketing agency for colleges and universities of all sizes. To see some of the work we’ve done and how we’ve helped schools just like yours, visit echodelta.co. If you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on Apple Podcasts. And as always, if you have a comment, question, suggestion or episode idea, feel free to drop us a line at podcast@echodelta.co.