Goecker Ready to Walk Alongside the Graduates He Helped Recruit

Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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Faculty and staff members honored Vice President for Enrollment Management Jim Goecker late this spring after participating in the final campus visitation day program of his distinguished 33-year career in college admissions.

As members of Rose-Hulman’s Class of 2019 prepare to depart the institute after the most transformative years of their lives, so does the person who played a significant role in their recruitment.

Jim Goecker is retiring this summer after a 33-year career as a member of the college’s admissions team, the last 15 years as vice president for enrollment management or dean of admissions.

On Saturday, Goecker will serve as master of ceremonies for Rose-Hulman’s 141st commencement, helping introduce the graduating seniors and other dignitaries to the thousands of guests filling the fieldhouse area of the Sports and Recreation Center.

He says, “Commencement is the second-best day in the life of any college admissions officer. You share that special day that you told students and parents about before they arrived. And, you get to see the remarkable transformation that those students have made throughout their college careers. They blossom from being nervous, bashful first-year students into confident college graduates, with exciting careers ahead of them. It’s very satisfying.”

Since 1986, Goecker has assisted in the recruitment of more than half of all Rose-Hulman’s nearly 10,000 living alumni. It is estimated that he helped process more than 110,000 applications from prospective students living throughout the world. He has visited students and counselors at every high school in Indiana, along with several in Louisville, Cincinnati and Chicago, and attended hundreds of college fair events to introduce Rose-Hulman to students and parents.

Looking back, Goecker says, “There once was a time that we might be fortunate to recruit one international student each year, along with getting one or two from California. Now this fall’s incoming class is expected to have 52 students from across the world – China, France, India, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and others – while 37 students will be arriving from California.”

He continues, “We’ve become much more a national institution, filled with a diverse student body. We’re spending time recruiting in California, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota and Washington, D.C. There was a time that we thought diversity was getting a student from Colorado. We’ve adapted to the changing dynamics of college recruiting and the increased demand of students seeking to learn more about attending the institute.”

Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons points out that under Goecker’s leadership, the institute integrated its Admissions and Financial Aid departments into a single Enrollment Management model, and oversaw operations that have typically processed more than 4,300 applications and recruited between 540 and 560 top-tier first-year students each year.

“Looking over all of Jim’s accomplishments, a couple of themes emerge: One is a consistent focus on better understanding what we are doing well and where we can use improvement,” says Coons.

During his career, Goecker has led several campus initiatives in the areas of financial aid, admissions and communications and marketing. He brought statistical and analytical experts onto the emerging enrollment management team, wrote the institute’s first comprehensive K-12 engagement plan, developed an enrollment forecasting model, and oversaw the first retention study. Coons notes that many of those initiatives have improved the way the institute operates in fundamental ways that will last well beyond Goecker’s tenure.

Coeducation significantly modified Rose-Hulman’s student body in 1995. A year previously, Goecker recruited the first group of 11 female students for a consortium program, taking courses at Rose-Hulman and nearby Indiana State University, which would become the campus leaders for the first incoming class of female first-year students.

“Coed was a fun time and that first consortium group was a special class of students. There are relationships with those first incoming female classes that I will cherish forever,” he says. “That’s what I have missed about becoming an administrator. I don’t get to know the prospective students as well as in the past. I used to go from meeting a student in high school or a college fair, spending most of the day with them and their families during a college visit, and then helping move them into their residence hall room to begin their college careers. I miss some things about those days and I definitely miss the people that I did them with.”

Goecker earned Rose-Hulman’s Excellence in Service Award twice – 2013 and 2009. He was named an honorary alumnus by the Rose-Hulman Alumni Association in 1994. Goecker also received the Athletic Department’s John Mutchner Award for his service to Rose-Hulman athletics and he most recently became only the third non-RHIT student-athlete to receive an honorary varsity letter from the Athletic Department.

Goecker is highly respected by his professional peers as well, being awarded the Dorothy Cheesman Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana Association for College Admission Counseling at this year’s statewide conference. He also has contributed to advisory groups for the College Entrance Examination Board, better known as The College Board, to expand student access to higher education and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, educating officials on how to recruit talented students to the private research university after its founding in 2009.