BVU Welcomes New Director of Admissions

Allyssa Ertz, Editor-in-Chief

Conner Ellinghuysen was welcomed to Buena Vista University as the new Director of Admissions on Nov. 4. Ellinghuysen has been involved in the world of higher education and admissions for seven years, and looks forward to how he can implement his own experiences here at BVU.


Most recently, Ellinghuysen has served as the Associate Director of Admissions at St. Mary’s in Winona, Minn., where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. As an intern for two years of his collegiate schooling, Ellinghuysen found his niche in working in higher education and admissions, totaling seven years of experience.


When higher education contacted him in search of a director for Buena Vista University, Ellinghuysen decided to visit, apply, and after consideration, accept the position of director.


“I came here, fell in love with the community, and definitely the campus and everything. I always knew I was going to be a director at some point, I just didn’t know when,” he says.


Buena Vista reminded Ellinghuysen of a campus he was familiar with; he sensed the community atmosphere, and was immediately given a warm welcome. After close student/faculty interaction at St. Mary’s, BVU gives him a new position with a touch of home.


“They talk about Iowa nice. I still don’t know if Iowa nice is as nice as Minnesota nice, but we’ll find that out,” he jokes.


Ellinghuysen’s diverse range of experiences has given him intuition for the job. From development of a 120-student worker program training in tours, ambassador tasks, calling team, and overnight hosting, to management and manning of different events, he offers multiple skills.


Through the renovations and program implements, the Director of Admissions has found ample student recruiting opportunities for the lakeside campus. 


“There’s so many new things that I think are going to be happening over the next five-ten years, there’s a great sense of vision,” he observes. “So many opportunities in a new director role.”


Every college is a little different, BVU is no exception. Ellinghuysen points out he is not naive to think his past successes will work the same at BV. He plans to use SWOT analysis, a strength assessment of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to find out what BVU priorities are and what can be implemented for improvement.


The top of Ellinghuysen’s to do list? Bring potential students TO campus. In order to see the college experience, students will only learn through interaction with actual college students.


“We as admission counselors, we can tell them what it is that they’ll experience here, but it’s another thing to see it and actually interact with students,” he adds.


He plans to apply his brainstormed ideas to shape this campus. He will use CRMs, or customer relation management programs, to discover information about students who have applied or are interested in BVU to better track and communicate student information.


He also plans to utilize social media even more than Admissions has previously to engage with prospective students and those related. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are all relevant to his plans of attack.


A rising platform in college admission is the new phenomenon “TikTok,” a video app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent video. Previously seen most in younger generations, this application has proven to bring large influencers to the table. One in particular reviewed his previous college of employment in one of their video creations, wearing St. Mary’s apparel to boot.


“I think the biggest thing is being able to understand the changes in demographics and understand what students want I think is important, and we’re not going to be able to do that if we stay in our bubble here,” he motions around Admissions.


Understanding what students are looking for and learning from experts, or everybody out in the field is of optimal importance. For example, including youth organizations such as FFA and 4H to inspire them to come visit and see why BV benefits them will create that student-to-student interaction; This personalized approach is a setup success in increasing enrollment.


Photos of Ellinghuysen’s past students, letters, and memories litter his desk. His passion as a mentor is evident. If someone puts time and effort in, he’ll go to bat to help them with anything.


Along with the seriousness that surrounds the job, Ellinghuysen likes to have some fun in the process.


“I am very sarcastic. I like to be sarcastic with people, just because I think it’s important, we have to be serious about the job and everything, but you have to add a little bit of humor here and there,” he says.


If students, faculty, or anyone would like to share their ideas with Ellinghuysen, he is more than willing to chat. He wants to hear any and all ideas or advice students, faculty, and staff have to offer.


“I’d just like to thank everybody for making this a warm welcome. I feel like I’m already integrated,” he smiles. “I really appreciate that, and I’m really looking forward to working with everybody.”