100 College Hall
Dennis Kelly serves as the Senior Vice President and Chief Enrollment Officer at Wilmington College, a Quaker-affiliated institution in southwest Ohio that will observe its 150th anniversary in 2020. He came to WC in 2013 as Senior Assistant to the President and remains The College’s lead strategic advisor on all enrollment and student recruitment initiatives. Under his leadership, new student enrollment and the percentage of students living on campus have increased while institutional aid has stabilized. Also, the College has established new programs with additional academic opportunities planned in the near future.
Kelly collaborated with faculty to create the innovative, “one-of-its-kind” Transfer Advantage Program, which accepts and satisfies all general education requirements for students graduating from regionally accredited Associate of Arts and Science degree programs nationwide. In Ohio, all students completing the Ohio Transfer Module are also eligible without a prerequisite of earning their degree. He also launched the Tuition Opportunity Initiative, which enrolls Ohio residents who are PELL eligible transfers.
Locally, Kelly led an effort to expand an already popular program designed to attract Wilmington High School gradates to now include all high school graduates living in Clinton County. The large number of first-time freshman and transfer students from Clinton County fueled the College’s fall 2018 class of 450 entering students, which comprised the largest in the history of Wilmington College. That entering class broke the previous enrollment record of 437 new students in 2014, which at the time eclipsed the previous historical entering total going all the way back to the post-World War II, enrollment boom in 1946. Fall 2019 realized another solid enrollment.
In early 2014, Kelly facilitated a campus-wide research project that led the Board of Trustees to vote to reduce tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year. This strategy immediately increased retention and enhanced the College’s price and quality perception realized by students and their families in regards to value. Concurrently, this measure complemented the College’s rebranding campaign, new academic programs and two newly constructed facilities, the state-of-the-art Center for Sport Sciences and Center for the Sciences and Agriculture in 2016, Kelly was among 39 university administrators and industry leaders that participated in a forum in Washington, D.C., designed to re-imagine higher education’s potential to lead global social impact. The White House, Department of State and Howard University hosted executive track sessions for the 8th annual Millennium Campus Conference. In summer 2019, Wilmington College garnered national recognition for its recent enrollment success by being selected national runner-up and one of three recipients of the Education Advances Award presented by Hobsons, a leader in educational technology with strategies for fostering student success. Subsequently, Hobsons named Kelly to its new Intersect Advisory Board. Previous to Wilmington College,
Kelly served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA. At Cabrini, Kelly was charged to successfully implement a landmark tuition reduction strategy that resulted in first-year and overall undergraduate enrollment increases after three consecutive years of decline. Kelly also planned and implemented the college’s first multi-year retention plan that reversed a four-year decline in retention. Before joining Cabrini in 2010, Kelly served as the Vice President for Enrollment at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, N.J. from 2007-2010, and Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, from 2004-2007. His 35-year career also includes enrollment experience at Centenary College and Berkeley College.
In 2006, The education consulting firm of Noel-Levitz honored Kelly’s enrollment team at Marywood for marketing recruitment excellence, and, in 2010, the team he led at Georgian Court received Noel-Levitz’s award for excellence in student retention. Kelly is the only higher education executive to have won both prestigious national awards. Currently, 14 former direct reports hold top senior enrollment positions of vice president, dean, chief enrollment officer or executive director at other institutions.
The White House and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have recognized Kelly for the development and promotion of educational opportunities for families of American troops serving in Iraq. Kelly organized outreach to Phi Theta Kappa students during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort to encourage fellow colleges to match Marywood’s full tuition and campus housing aid for PTK students who were displaced from Gulf Coast colleges caused by the disaster. Early in his career, Alpha Kappa Psi featured Kelly as a “Builder of Business Colleges & Brotherhood” while at Centenary College; also, he served as the Alpha Kappa Psi advisor to Epsilon Psi at Upsala. Kelly spent six years on the New Jersey School Board of Education as both Vice President and a board member. He is a Vietnam-era veteran and holds Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Kelly presents nationally and regionally on various SEM topics and has assisted other college and universities as an independent consultant with their respective strategic enrollment decisions.
This year, Kelly was selected by this alma mater as their Commencement Speaker and also received the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.