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MSU Denver welcomes new AVP for Enrollment Management

Mary Sauceda is passionate about student success and ready to lead through the enrollment challenges presented by COVID-19.

By Lindsey Coulter

April 6, 2020

Mary SaucedaOn April 6, Metropolitan State University of Denver will welcome Mary Sauceda, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, to the Roadrunner flock. Sauceda will lead admissions; testing; financial aid; registrar; and orientation, transition, and retention efforts through a unique time in the University’s history, but she’s more than ready for the challenge. 

“Mary will bring the right mix of strategic leadership, focus on collaboration, and commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion that will allow MSU Denver to thrive in a new era of student enrollment,” said Will Simpkins, Ed.D., vice president, Student Affairs.

As a first-generation, nontraditional student, Sauceda’s experiences transferring from a community college to Fresno State — where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business computer information systems and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration — will help her relate and respond to student needs.

The Early Bird spoke with Sauceda to learn more about the personal and professional experiences that brought her to this career and vocation.

What drew you to this position?

I was attracted to this opportunity because of MSU Denver’s position of strength as a mission-driven, student-centered University with enrollment policies focused on inclusion, rather than exclusion. It became clear to me early in the search process that MSU Denver is a truly special place. My subsequent interactions with students, faculty and staff have only reaffirmed that belief. I appreciate how student-focused everyone is, and how collaborative the campus is to support enrollment functions.

What professional experiences prepared you for this role?

I recently served as associate director of Financial Aid and on the senior staff team for Enrollment Services at the University of Denver, where I am also earning my doctorate in higher education. I served in the TRiO Educational Talent Search program at California State University, Fresno, and also held various leadership roles in Financial Aid at Fresno State. I was director of communications and media for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management before moving to Colorado, where I led enrollment communication strategies by collaborating closely with students, faculty and staff.

What enrollment and retention trends do you feel are particularly promising for an institution like MSU Denver?

MSU Denver’s modified open-access and commitment to serve students with many intersecting identities and lifestyles positions us well in today’s enrollment landscape. With the demographics shifting and creating a shortage of traditional-aged college students in this decade, many institutions at a national level are seeking to recruit students in areas they have never targeted before — namely students of color, nontraditional students, first-generation and low-income students. These are uncharted waters for them, and their campuses are not well prepared to really serve these student populations. MSU Denver is well-positioned to serve these students with a quality education while providing them with the sense of belonging they need to be successful.

I would be remiss if I did not mention what the COVID-19 pandemic is doing to enrollment and retention at a larger scale. There is hardly anything great about this pandemic. However, MSU Denver is already leading efforts to support students virtually focusing on flexible and supportive standards that go a long way in retaining students. Additionally, many Coloradans are out of work right now. They may make the important decision to start a new degree, or perhaps complete one they previously started but did not quite complete, MSU Denver is ready to welcome students with open arms.

Even as we move to remote classes and working situations, how can we continue to promote MSU Denver’s value among current and potential students?

The great efforts already in place by the wonderful faculty and staff during this extraordinary time demonstrate how possible is being reimagined to engage, teach and support students. The safety of students is of the utmost importance, while planning to provide them with the quality education they have been receiving on campus. Moving classes 100% online is a pivotal moment in higher education’s history. There will be learning curves and considerable intentionality to be there for students, including promoting their learning, supporting their mental and physical health and wellness, support for food or house insecurities, and anything else they may need to be academically successful. Being present and continuing to put students at the forefront of our efforts and push the boundaries of what is possible—this is the value we offer as Colorado’s choice university, online and on-campus.

How do you spend your free time?

I love cycling, spending time outdoors with my family, all things science fiction, and cooking ethnic foods. I also enjoy reading articles and books having to do with social justice and equity in higher education. I believe something that I will truly enjoy going forward is being a Roadrunner all day, every day!

Topics: Arrivals and departures, Enrollment, Hiring, Inclusive leadership, Student Affairs, Student Success

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