"What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
As classic, romantic, and heartfelt as Juliet’s line remains to this day, I must, in this case, protest. Because during the second full week of September, I witnessed the true power of a new name and what it could do to bring people together.
For months, the staff, the board, and the consultants to the former SSATB pondered, debated, collaborated, compromised, and ultimately forged a new name for our association: The Enrollment Management Association. We thought long and hard about who we wanted to be, what that would look and sound like, and what it would mean for our future and our members. We hoped fervently that it would be not only accepted, but embraced as a symbol of the renewed commitment we have made to you, to your professional growth and, by extension, to the sustainability of private schools.
It turns out that our worries were unfounded. When I arrived in Baltimore for our 59th Annual Meeting, I was met by a record-breaking 927 attendees who had come together with such enthusiasm and collegiality, it was palpable. Our conference nearly dwarfed the hotel, and in every hallway, in every session, at every break, I overheard people talking with excitement about their careers, their schools, and (most importantly to me) how The Enrollment Management Association was helping them meet their needs. As the leader in professional development for our industry, we are helping you become leaders as well: with 40 collegial workshops (many standing-room-only), 118 new admission staffers learning the ropes at our Admission Training Institute, and 39 taking part in our brand new Admission Directors Institute, we are cultivating leadership at every stage of your career. Our Senior Track, a new venture from our Enrollment Management Think Tank (EMTT), was hugely popular, and our featured speakers made you think, made you laugh, and sometimes made you cry. We had 342 first time attendees, and many, many colleagues that have been with us for a number of years. I hope that you took advantage of our enrollment management conversations on Saturday to develop additional skill in one of the key areas we’ve identified as crucial for the independent school admission practitioner: marketing, data/finance, assessment, and leadership.
Old friends reunited. New friendships blossomed. And through it all ran the common thread of an industry steeped in committing to one goal – to transform the lives of children by providing them the opportunity to enroll in our schools.
Our reception desk was the site of so many congratulatory comments, warm thanks from members, and heartfelt gratitude that I can’t help but believe that the work we are doing is having a significant impact for you. For this, I am humbled and inspired. Without you, we could not do what we do. And we’re hoping that you are beginning to feel the same way. As The Enrollment Management Association, we will continue to bring you the groundbreaking research, training, and collaborative opportunities that will help you and your school not just survive, but thrive.
So, forgive me if I supplant Juliet with Selena as I reflect on this amazing conference: “What I've learned is so vital/ More than just survival/This is my revival.” We are so pleased to partner with you as our organization, and our industry, experiences a revival. And never forget: we are here to serve you. Because when great schools enroll great students, everything is possible.