Kena Wolf named Chief Enrollment Management Officer


Photo Courtesy of Park University

Park University promoted Kena Wolf to chief enrollment management officer. Her new role began Jan. 1.

In this new position, Wolf will be overseeing admissions and student enrollment. That includes, “our virtual admissions team, our virtual success team, our Parkville admissions team, our Parkville success team, graduate admissions, and graduate success (team). It also includes marketing, financial aid… and our strategic alliances,” said Wolf.

In this new position, Wolf wants to accomplish many things. She said, “I want to make the processes for students to enroll initially… and then continue to enroll, as seamlessly as possible.”

She and her team are looking into ways to streamline the process and remove challenges so that students can focus on academics instead of confusion with enrollment, said Wolf.

Another goal Wolf has is to help students find opportunities to come back and finish their education. Some students have had to pause their education because of COVID-19 or for many other reasons.

“We really want to reach out to those students and make sure they know we’re still here for them, and that we want to… remove any barriers that we can to help them complete that degree,” Wolf said.

Her team is also looking to stabilize enrollment numbers. Wolf said that they want the enrollment numbers for next academic year to be at least the same as Park’s current enrollment numbers. They are hoping this allows them to lay out a foundation for enrollment so that Park can grow in the future.

One area that Wolf’s team is focusing on to accomplish this stabilization is strategic alliances. Strategic alliances are businesses that Park partners with to offer tuition assistance to their employees.

Another area that Park is focusing on to keep enrollment numbers up is the military student population.

“We’re investing some more marketing efforts into the military population,” said Wolf. Her team is also looking into building relationships on military bases where there is not necessarily a physical location for Park, but where there is a good student population to gain more students on the base.

The third area that Wolf’s team is working on is enrollment on the Parkville and Gilbert campuses. They’re especially focusing on high schools and community colleges in the surrounding area of the respective college campuses. The team is working to deepen relationships with those schools and show students why Park University could fit their needs, she said.

This stabilization is very important because of the enrollment declines Park has faced since COVID-19 began.

“We’ve had a significant decline over the last two years, and we’re not alone,” Wolf said. Because of the pandemic, roughly 1 million fewer students have enrolled in college, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. This is one of the largest declines that higher education has faced in the last 50 years, and Park has not been immune to the effects.

There is one area where Park’s enrollment numbers have really taken a hit.

“The biggest enrollment declines we’ve experienced has been at the campus centers over the last two years, and that is due mostly to the fact that many are on military installations,” said Wolf.

Many of these military installations closed during the pandemic, which led to many students deciding to take time off from their education. It also took away opportunities for potential students to find Park’s campus centers and enroll in classes, she continued.

These campus centers have reopened; which is why Wolf’s team is focusing on these centers as a way to increase enrollment.

Wolf has more than 20 years of experience in higher education. She says she has learned which many lessons to help accomplish these goals.

“Most of those roles had to do with admissions, enrollment and managing multi campuses,” she said.

The biggest lesson that Wolf said she has learned along the way is to trust her team, especially when her team is as great as she feels her team at Park is. She said that she finds it best to provide an overall strategy and direction and then help her team accomplish the goals when needed.

Wolf has been at Park since April 2016 when she was hired to serve as the associate vice president of campus center and distance operations, according to the Park website. In this position, she oversaw all of the campuses in Park’s network and helped with both enrollment and financial growth. She was appointed as interim chief operating officer in December 2020 when current Park President Shane Smeed was appointed as interim president for the university. She said the COO role had very similar responsibilities to her new role.

Above all, Wolf wants students to know that she is approachable.

“I want to hear if people are having challenges or concerns or enrollment hurdles… because there’s a lot that we can do to fix it, to streamline it, and make it better for students,” she said.