By Avise Batalova
SC Contributing Writer
Take a time machine back to the ESU campus only a short seven years and you may be surprised.
Today, the various races and cultures that make up the student population aren’t given a second thought.
Looking around the ESU campus, diversity may not initially cross the minds of some students, but the University has risen to be the number one most diversified school in the state system of Pennsylvania in proportion to its population with the help of Jeff Jones, Director of Admissions.
Attracted by the location, various majors, and student interaction, Jeff Jones took office as Director of Admissions in January of 2008.
At the time, the minority rate was far less than the 27 percent East Stroudsburg University has today.
“I thought that East Stroudsburg was in a position to not only increase diversity but to also attract very good students,” said Jones.
The goal was never to diversify the campus for the sake of diversifying it, but to gain students who brought special attributes to the campus.
Each student is admitted with the same criteria. Being a minority does not give a potential student a free pass to acceptance.
Jones said, “Our diversity has come as a result of really reaching out to everyone.”
Jones put a large focus on local students after witnessing the significant amount of potential and knowledge amongst Monroe County students that was being overlooked.
To help solve the problem of poor local recruitment, Jones began instant decision days at local high schools in which a potential student is granted or denied acceptance that same day.
“Yes, we want local kids, but we want the best local kids,” added Mr. Jones.
Jones has also expanded the New York and New Jersey market since 2008. With the decline in Pennsylvania’s population, all state system schools are essentially forced to recruit out-of-state students and that is what Jones is doing.
Because of his reputation, Jones is frequently invited to speak at various high schools and has the ability to reach entire classes of juniors and seniors. In places including Philadelphia, Norris Town, and Lehigh Valley, Jones not only promotes ESU, but also a positive way of life.
“It is important to me to serve kids. That is the most important thing in the world for me,” he said.
After graduating from Illinois State University, Jones coached college basketball until 2000 when he became the Associate Director at Kutztown University. In the span of eight years in office, he helped bring the diversity rate from four percent to 18 percent and increased the number of minorities applying for admission from 250 to 3,000.
It is not just about filling a bed at ESU for Director Jones. Of course he has to uphold admission goals, but more so, he looks for students who can add to the campus community, students who professors love teaching, and hopes each student is glad he or she chose this school.
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