Meet Stetson’s New Director of Admissions

Rick Ellis, Stetson’s new director of admissions, previously helped three students enroll at the university as a high-school counselor.

Rick Ellis held a “crush” on Stetson for years.

As director of college counseling at private preparatory Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, Florida, Ellis was able to view the admissions process from a young-student perspective, and he became sold on Stetson.

“We [he and colleague Kim Lord in College Counseling] were huge fans of the academic reputation of Stetson and the personalized experience students could not get at the larger public institutions,” says Ellis, who worked at Saint Stephen’s from 2010 to 2013. “I have three seniors at Stetson who I worked with when they were in high school deciding on colleges. I am not sure any other director of admissions in the country can say that!”

Now, Ellis is on the other side, officially starting Oct. 16 on Stetson’s historic campus in DeLand, Florida. In short order, he has been similarly impressed.

“I have only been here a few weeks, but to see the engagement between faculty and students daily confirms why I came to DeLand,” Ellis comments. “If you want to know how we are going to succeed in the Admissions office in the coming years, watch our faculty in action. They will be the differentiating factor for students in the decision process.”

Ellis arrived from Augsburg University in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he served as director of undergraduate admissions at the private liberal arts college. There for nearly four years, Ellis placed great emphasis on student access and diversity and helped to create the university’s three largest enrollment classes in its 148-year history. Augsburg has roughly half of Stetson’s enrollment.

At Stetson, Commencement 2017 was the largest ever at Stetson, with a total of 879 graduates from the DeLand campus, including 687 undergraduate students. In fall 2016, new students totaled 1,089 – its highest count.

Buoyed by a resume filled with successes, Ellis is expected to only further that momentum, contends Joel Bauman, Stetson’s vice president of enrollment management.

“Rick brings a wealth of experience from both sides of the desk – having been a guidance counselor at strong college preparatory high schools as well as having a solid career as director of university admissions,” Bauman says. “With this unique skill set, Rick will elevate the Stetson admissions profile throughout the counseling community and open doors in targeted markets.

“Rick is just the right ‘piece of the puzzle’ to round out a strong Stetson enrollment team that is poised to extend several years of record enrollments.”

Says Ellis, modestly, “I’m coming into a good situation.”

Maybe even call Ellis a new head coach. As a student at Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire, Ellis was a tennis player at the Division III level. He also coached at his alma mater for six years. For good measure, Ellis was the varsity boys and girls coach at the high-school level, too.

“I have always wanted to work at a Division I or I-AA institution; it is sort of a bucket list for me,” Ellis asserts. “Coming from a Division III background, I am excited to learn more about what makes our athletic programs and athletes stand out.”

Notably, Stetson offers 17 intercollegiate sports, with all but football (at the Football Championship Subdivision level) offering scholarships.

Ellis also has his own team to coach, with the Admissions staff at Stetson doubling the count he worked with at Augsburg. He relishes the role of mentor while remaining a competitor.

“It is a younger staff in terms of professional experience, but it is a super talented staff,” says Ellis. “I tend to overuse sports analogies, but I am walking into a team full of strengths, and if I can help add to it in any way, I am honored to do so. Above anything else, winning is in my blood. I know how special Stetson is, and it is our job to show it off to students as early and as often as we can.”

-Michael Candelaria