Editor’s Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Don Hossler was unable to deliver the Dec. 8, 2015, Sonneborn Lecture. He asked that his remarks be delivered by Barry Bull, professor emeritus, IU Bloomington School of Education.
“The objective is to make the opaque transparent,” Dr. Hossler advised me recently, as I was wrestling with the findings chapter of my dissertation. What was intended as a simple instruction seems to me to be much more appropriate as a description of the work of Dr. Don Hossler.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Hossler’s research and scholarship at the intersection of college choice, student persistence, and the effects of financial aid has given shape to the field of enrollment management and helped make transparent all its opaque dimensions.
He has literally written the book on Strategic Enrollment Management and influenced a generation of academics and professionals on the subject.
Dr. Hossler’s extensive research is important because it requires us to acknowledge all of the factors — academic, financial, and public policy, to name just a few — that influence college costs. His firsthand experience in what he calls the “hot seat,” having served as the IU Bloomington vice chancellor for the Office of Enrollment Management, adds an aura of heft to his research, because we know he’s lived what he’s writing.
His research and experience are particularly important today because of the public concern about college costs and outcomes.
As indicated by the title of his Sonneborn Lecture, “Why Does College Cost So Much? Some Notes on Institutional Agency,” institutions have agency in the college cost equation. Students of Dr. Hossler know that this agency doesn’t simply reside within the central administration, but rather at all levels of an institution.
Enrollment management is about much more than simply recruiting and admitting a class of new students. It requires all stakeholders to be invested and work together in support of the education, retention, and persistence of students towards successful outcomes.
Dr. Hossler’s influence on my education, as is the case with many of his students, is profound.
While he is internationally known for his work on enrollment management, those of us who have the privilege of being his students are the beneficiaries of the full range of his knowledge. Even in retirement, as an emeriti professor, Dr. Hossler continues to direct several doctoral dissertations. Every three weeks, for the past several months, the eight of us have gathered with Dr. Hossler to share our progress and receive his feedback. The topics are wide-ranging but Dr. Hossler is right there with each student, offering new perspectives and sage guidance in this most challenging and demanding of academic pursuits.
We are the fortunate beneficiaries of not only his wisdom, but his example.