After an extensive nationwide search, the Cal Poly administration found its most qualified candidate for the position of Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management already within the campus community.
Newly appointed vice president Terrance Harris has worked with admissions and enrollment at Cal Poly for 17 years and most recently served as vice president on an interim basis since June 2021.
But his roots in the academic community run much deeper.
As a crucial part of the Admissions Division, Harris’s role sets the overall strategic vision for enrollment at Cal Poly, develops strategies to better leverage financial aid, collaborates with university partners on goals long-term and short-term registration and strives to remove barriers to registration.
“It’s just about being very proactive and aware of what it takes to educate the students that are here, whatever it is,” Harris said. “I think of my role as a role of service to the students and to the state of California and beyond.”
Harris had the opportunity to pitch her vision for the role at a community forum that took place in November.
“When I really talk about my vision, it is to help the university achieve its goals, to help be a positive member of CSU and the State of California…and to do so in a incredibly collaborative and engaging way on campus so that it’s not only our division trying to tell people what needs to be done, but really having the opportunity to dig, listen and work with incredibly talented units on campus said Harris.
While Harris has worked for the university since 2004, he also earned his master’s degree in educational leadership and administration and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal Poly, which makes him particularly familiar with the Learn by Doing approach.
“I went to school here, my parents went to school here. I’ve been a part of this community for pretty much my entire life, so the opportunity to continue here and do meaningful work…it’s more than just a job for me,” Harris said. “This campus is part of the fabric of my family and the opportunities we’ve had to learn, gain an education, and be part of the San Luis Obispo community.”
Harris’s parents came to Cal Poly in 1968 and were among the initial group of students participating in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) pilot program at the university, which aims to improve group retention historically, economically and educationally disadvantaged. Her current position allows Harris to pursue Cal Poly’s diversity goals, some of which have already been established in the EOP program through enrollment and recruiting efforts.
“A lot of times people limit diversity and they only think in terms of ethnicity, and for me it goes way beyond that – it’s the regions, it educates students from rural areas, it educates our low-income population. income,” Harris said. “It means having a diversity of thought, it means having people with varied backgrounds and experiences because students benefit from being in an environment with a variety of lived experiences.”
As the head coach of the Mission College Catholic Preparatory High School boys’ basketball team, Harris was also able to mentor hundreds of students while remaining closely involved in the community. which it aims to serve.
“It’s a great opportunity as an Enrollment Manager to stay in touch with our young people, to understand exactly some of the lived experiences they have, what they’re going through and how that might translate into the work we do. and how we can better serve students in our local population,” said Harris.
Harris’ selection to fill the position of strategic enrollment management comes with a high recommendation from President Jeffrey Armstrong.
“Terrance has been an incredible member of our community as a student, advisor, mentor and leader. It truly embodies Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy,” Armstrong said in a press release. “His leadership will be crucial in our ongoing efforts to ensure that we bring students to Cal Poly and support them throughout their college careers so they can be ready on day one.”
Although the university’s administrative roles can seem isolated from the daily lives of students, Harris said he wants students to know that they are at the heart of everything he does at Cal Poly.
“Not a day goes by or a decision is made that doesn’t reflect student needs,” Harris said. “This university exists to create opportunities for students to grow in both their academic and social experiences and while we will not be perfect in every decision we make, we will be intentional and work to create a better today and tomorrow than yesterday.”