Right fit: New UI Director of Admissions sets goals to increase enrollment
When he applied for the University of Idaho Director of Admissions position, Cezar Mesquita said he considered UI’s mission and how he envisioned himself in that role. So far, Mesquita said he’s fitting right in.
“It’s exciting to be here during a time of unparalleled opportunity for meeting enrollment goals and contributing to the university’s legacy of leading,” he said.
Mesquita officially started his position Aug. 6, after moving to Moscow with his wife, Megan, and their three children. He studied Spanish at the University of Nebraska, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts. He also has a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies from the University of Alabama.
Mesquita has worked 12 years in admissions, including six as a director, at Antioch College in Ohio, the College of Wooster in Ohio and Doane College in Nebraska—all private colleges. He was also the director for Diversity Enrollment at the University of Denver, and served as the interim executive director and assistant director for the Latin American Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization.
Steve Neiheisel, UI Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, said Mesquita was chosen from the candidates who emerged in the nationwide search because of his management skills. As a Brazilian native, Mesquita also understands the perspectives of international students and immigrants, which Neiheisel said is valuable.
“He’s a more experienced leader who not only has life experience to add to the package, but a personal background that’s valuable to the role,” Neiheisel said.
A critical component of a successful enrollment program is having the right people for the job, and Neiheisel said the addition of Mesquita has created a talented team.
“We’re working on putting a foundation together to move ahead with what the president wants and the university’s goals for increasing enrollment,” he said.
Since taking office at UI, President M. Duane Nellis has expressed a goal of increasing enrollment up to 16,000 students by 2020. The increase would be
a combination of on-campus, off-site and online students. Right now, enrollment is at 12,000 students and UI has the capacity for 14,000 students.
A decrease in federal and state funding for higher education has resulted in a general trend of public institutions becoming more like private universities and colleges in terms of admissions, Neiheisel said. UI is becoming more tuition dependent, similar to a private school model of admissions. Mesquita comprehends this kind of system and can provide insight to it, Neiheisel said.
As the director of admissions, Mesquita said it’s his responsibility to orchestrate all admission functions from the moment a student first learns about UI to when they are admitted into the university. Although he just started the position, Mesquita has already set goals.
Mesquita said he wants to utilize technology more effectively to reach out to potential students and ensure the right message is reaching the right constituents.
Working on team development with the 20 staff members he oversees is also a priority, Mesquita said.
Despite the challenges UI faces because of decreased state funding, Neiheisel and Mesquita said they are confident in their ability and that of their co-workers to continue increasing enrollment.
“This is a great school, and if we can get the right message out there, then there is a lot of optimism that we can grow enrollment,” Neiheisel said.
Elisa Eiguren can be reached at email@example.com