ultoday.com recently interviewed Dan Rosenfield, Dean of Enrollment Management at UL, and Joelle Boudreaux, one of the team of Admissions Counselors.

Dan Rosenfield, Enrollment Management, University of LouisianaTell us about yourselves.

Joelle: I grew up in New Orleans, and graduated from Ursuline Academy. I came to UL because it felt like home. I fell in love with the city and the school almost instantly, and just knew that this is where I wanted to be.

I did have to leave after I graduated to get a job, but my parents moved me back almost immediately. My Dad doesn't let me forget that.

To work for UL?

Yes. I'm an Admissions Counselor for Enrollment Services. Basically, I work the different recruitment fairs, and I set up private meetings at schools. It's my job to explain to students and faculty why UL is the best school.

Best in the state?

Best ever.

Dan: I grew up in northeast Connecticut. My father grew up in Hartford, and in 1936 he was graduated from the University of Connecticut in chemistry. He went into business, mainly pulverizing magnesium for the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1955, during a flood one of his plants was fully engulfed in flames. Ground magnesium burns really well. It made the front page of the New York Times, and was selected as the Associated Press Photo of the Year. In one day he lost two plants... the one he had insured for fire flooded, and the one he had insured for flooding, burned.

I was graduated from Windham College, a small liberal arts college in Putney, Vermont. It's now closed. The trustees included Pearl S. Buck, George Aiken, Robert Frost, Edward Durel Stone, and Linus Pauling. The fellow who founded it also founded two other liberal arts colleges, only one survives today.

I was a government major. In the last course I had to take, chemistry, I only got one good thing out of it: my wife, Mary.

Many years later, I did a two-summer Master's program in Educational Counseling at Plymouth State University. I served briefly as a school counselor.

How did you end up at UL?

Dan: I had worked in admissions at undergrad schools. My last job was at a graduate psychology school in Atlanta. I wanted to get back to a traditional undergraduate four year institution. I saw the UL ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education... I almost didn't apply, large public schools usually want people who have experience in similar institutions. But I wrote a cover letter, and sent in my résumé.

I had only been to Louisiana once before, and actually drove through Lafayette. I was driving a group of kids to Mexico, two of us alternated driving straight through from Vermont all the way to Brownsville. I came through Lafayette in the middle of the night... I think I drove straight through the Basin without any idea that I was over water.

I did know one thing about UL, that we had a wonderful basketball program. I really like college basketball, so that was attractive to me.

I got an interview here, but it didn't start well. I flew through Memphis, and my plane was stuck in the rain, so I sat on the ground for 4 hours. Harry Hebert was assigned to pick me up, I called ahead and said that I would take a cab, and asked him to please not wait. But he insisted on waiting.

So finally I arrived in Lafayette. But my bags didn't. I had no clothes, no toiletries. Of course I had to be polite about it all, because I'm a Yankee and everyone had already decided that I was obnoxious.

Harry wears a big cross around his neck, and if you ever had to find someone who lives his religion, it would be Harry. He took me to the all-night Walmart. After waiting hours for me to arrive, he then helped me shop.

So the next day I interviewed in a pair of slacks, a shirt and a tie, all bought from Walmart... they have horrible ties, by the way. So trust me when I tell you that I did not look like someone who had come to interview for a serious university position.

Then during the interviews, Raymond Blanco actually said he thought it would be an advantage that I was a Yankee. He's never explained to me what that meant.

Before I interviewed at UL, I had already visited several schools. Whenever I'd get back home, my wife would ask me what I thought. Up to that point, I hadn't been interested in any of the schools except for one, where I finished as the #2 choice.

When I got back from UL, Mary asked "How did it go?"

I told her, "If those people have the bad judgment to hire me, we're moving to Louisiana."

What did she say?

I don't think you could print it if I could remember it. We didn't know much about Lafayette, or Louisiana.

How do you like it?

Well, I grew up almost entirely among French Catholic Canadians, so I'm very comfortable here.

Joelle Boudreaux, Enrollment Management, University of LouisianaWhen you're recruiting students, is UL hard to sell?

Joelle: Not at all. We have amazing programs. Our three most asked-about programs are computer science, nursing, and anything in engineering. We're strong in all of them.

Also, we're the only school that doesn't offer lanyards, but the kids still want to talk to us anyway.

Dan: I think we have a lot to talk about when we visit with kids. I tell them that we do what a university like UL is supposed to do: almost every decision in the UL administration starts off with questions about how will it affect the students, and how will it impact education here. This is an easy place to promote aggressively, and still sleep well at night.

I think a lot of institutions engage in hyperbole, "We have the best this, or that." We don't really get into that, we don't spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to other institutions. We sell ourselves for what we are.

And it seems to work. We were recently contacted by Student Insights, who did a survey of high school seniors in Louisiana. Among Louisiana colleges & universities, UL ranked second for students' awareness of the university, and for our image.

Is it just UL's academics?

Joelle: Our academics bring prospects here. But the feeling you get when you step on campus is why they love it. I tell them once they visit, they will feel the warmth and friendliness of the place.

Does every visitor have that response?

Joelle: Overall, they come back or write us and say, It was amazing, It was beautiful, UL is where I want to go. Most of all, they tell us that UL felt like home.

La Maison Française, Enrollment Services, University of LouisianaUL is the only state with growing enrollments. Talk about that.

Dan: No one college or university is the best school for everyone. But we really do have something for everyone here. We offer almost every academic major that students are interested in, we have over 150 campus organizations, our housing is better than ever it it has ever been, and we are expanding it in the near future. The University has been and continues to be recognized in high-profile publications.

We are also very affordable, and we have scholarships that are some of the most generous in the nation. I don't know if you could find a school as affordable as UL is, that also provides our level of institutional funding for scholarships. Along with the friendly campus environment, those things make us very, very attractive.

Selecting a school comes down to three things, essentially. First, there's academics & campus life, students and parents want to know if there is quality in those areas. Next, they want to know about affordability, can they cover the cost of education. And finally, they look at fit. Essentially, they ask themselves if a college will be a fun and interesting place to spend four years. UL does really well in all three areas.

We also have a group of young, energetic admissions counselors who spend a lot of time and energy reaching out to students, telling them about UL, and why this is such a great place and such a great community.

These guys have to be very motivated.... they will often work through several tough school visits, and they still get psyched up for the next one.

Joelle: Although we're all recruiting the same students, there's a camaraderie among the schools, so there are constantly pranks. There will be signs supporting other schools on my table, or signs saying "Don't come here."

But we all help each other out, we share rides, we eat together. We even travel in caravans to the recruitment fairs. We're all proud of our schools, and we are all working hard to recruit students to our campuses. But we all get along.

What does UL offer that most people are unaware of?

Joelle: Our own students don't realize how much the campus organizations, the athletics, and the local community have to offer. This community supports UL.

There's just a lot going on; we have 10,000-pound crawfish boils, we hold canoe races across the Swamp-- I know you don't see that at other schools.

Dan: There is so much happening on campus, that even people in the Administration don't know about all of it. That's why we emphasize to local kids, even those who have grown up around UL, that it's important they take a tour of the campus. In a couple of hours they and their parents learn a lot about us. They leave knowing there is a lot more here-- academically, socially-- that they ever imagined.

Joelle: After the tours, parents and students tell us that they enjoyed themselves, and that they learned a lot about the University. It's very rare to find someone who says "I knew that."