Membership Spotlight - Kathryn Kendall

The Mission of NAGAP is to support, advance and engage graduate enrollment professionals by promoting integrity, excellence and collaboration through education and professional development.


Monday, March 18, 2019 - 8:45am

Kathryn Kendall

Senior Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Online Programs, University at Buffalo School of Social Work

Buffalo, NY

Education:  BA in Psychology from SUNY Fredonia, MSW from University at Buffalo, and Doctorate (EdD) from the University of Rochester

Kathryn Kendall is the Senior Assistant Dean for Enrollment and Online Programs at the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work. In this positon her responsibilities are somewhat divided. Kathryn has oversight of the School of Social Work’s enrollment, but is also responsible for the logistical details involving the delivery of the online options. She works closely with her Dean to identify student enrollment goals through the use of predictive modeling. Her oversight includes all aspects of the strategic recruitment plan, budget development, management and the admission design and process. Along with these areas she has responsibility for student financial admissions awards, conducting school data analysis, and running variety of regular and ad hoc reports. She works extensively with program directors, faculty, student services, field education and the IT and instructional design staff to assure enrollments are strong and data is accurate and readily available for important enrollment and strategic decisions. She, like many of us, recently delved into the ADA compliance issues requiring additional personal training on everything from accessible web sites to digital documents and presentations, transcriptions and custom captioning. 

Kathryn has been working in Higher Education for 16 years – all of them at her current institution. When asked what her favorite part of this “all inclusive” job is – she said that most of her joy comes from the relationships she has built over the years with her colleagues and friends. While she enjoys “crunching numbers”, she relishes the wonderful support and insights from her work community that have led to her own personal growth.  Included in this community of support are not only her UB colleagues, but NAGAP colleagues as well. “Having someone to call and pick their brain or commiserate is an invaluable part of my work life”

When asked what she would change about her job – the answer was left blank. Speaking volumes to the fact that she is clearly doing what she loves.  How did Kathryn prepare for a job like this? Part of this preparation was her BA in Psychology and her Master in Social Work. This not only prepared her for the GEM side of her job, but also for the recruitment and outreach area speaking to her own experience as a Social Work student. When asked what challenges she observed in Graduate Enrollment Management – she listed the following: “emerging competition by online degree options, demand for a job skill specific training combined with a loss of perceived value of a college degree and the rising tuition and student debt... with rising tuition and student debt it’s a wonder why anyone pursues a traditional higher education degree. Yet, trade professions are having a difficulty finding young adults to enter into a trade career”.

Kathryn knew she wanted to work in Higher Ed after realizing that her existing career was fraught with layoffs and unsteady work.  She was an adjunct professor and social worker, but soon took on a position as the “off-site program coordinator at UB – and the rest is history. When asked what advice she would give someone just starting out in the field – her answer showed the impact of her years of experience and education. “Know more than just your immediate job responsibilities. Understand the details and nuances of the system you work within”. The ability to think beyond your role and immediate impact of a decision is necessary for long term success. Also important, understanding the value of social clout and leveraging relationships. Great advice for those just staring out with an eye for bigger and broader roles within their institution.

When asked what she would do if not a GEM professional – she had a few items to cover. As a pre-teen she considered being a Veterinarian or State Trooper. She has considered running for a political office post-GEM career, but after more consideration thinks her next role will be that of “retiree and traveler”. 

Kathryn’s involvement in NAGAP and other Higher Ed organizations is extensive. Many of you probably already know her from her role in the Professional Development Institutes, or sat in on one of her annual conference presentations. 

Kathryn joined NAGAP in 2006 upon becoming the Director of Recruitment. It was recommended to her by a colleague at UB. “Discovering and joining NAGAP was perhaps the single most helpful recommendation leading to a successful career in enrollment”.Kathryn has attended every Conference since 2006 returning home with many implementable takeaways thanks to her generous colleagues. Her goal is to bring home at least two or three new ideas to implement each year. The most recent being how to make a strategic change in scholarship awards which resulted in an increase in yield. What is her favorite NAGAP memory? Her very first NAGAP conference in 2006 when she returned home with a notebook FULL of great ideas and information. But more importantly, her memory of how many “door prizes” she has won over the years at NAGAP, including, but not limited to an iPad, Kindle Fire, Flat screen TV and assorted gift cards. I have been witness to many of these prizes being awarded and remain incredulous at her luck. 

While very involved in NAGAP, Kathryn has also been involved with NYGAP (New York State Chapter of NAGAP) from its inception. She has held the role of Treasurer and Vice-President for this organization. She is also the current Co-President of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work Admissions (NDDSWA). During the annual NAGAP conference, Kathryn has helped to bring together social work colleagues by organizing a social work special interest group meeting. She was honored this past year as the “Mentor of the Year” by this NDDSWA. Kathryn has clearly both given so much, and received so much from NAGAP and other organizations. She is often amazed at the generosity of others when sharing their ideas, best practices and “insider trading tips”. She goes on to say that many relationships “that began as basic introductions at a NAGAP social event have developed into some of my closest colleagues and friends. Friends that will continue after I am retired.”

Some fun facts about Kathryn. She is a year round griller – despite living in Buffalo and often having to shovel a path to the grill. Also – and even more compelling – she is entering her fourth year of Highland Games Competition. For those that don’t know – Highland Games consists of 9 events (in USA) with the most popular being the iconic caber toss. Caber is Gaelic for tree, and in this event athletes “pick” a caber holding it vertically and attempt to throw and turn the tree trunk end over end. When practicing in her backyard she does draw the stares of many curious neighbors – probably worried about their fences. She recently competed in the World Master Scottish games in German and Iceland. Whether it is flipping tree trunks, or improving yield – Kathryn clearly has the brain and the brawn to achieve both.