April 19, 2021 | UHCL Staff
Lee Young learned from early childhood that the only way to succeed in life was to get an education. "That was drilled into me all my life," he said.
Young, who became University of Houston-Clear Lake's Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management in February, has over 20 years' experience in higher education and hopes to use his new position to enhance students' life cycle, from recruitment to enrollment, retention to persistence, graduation to career placement.
"I come from a family of educators, and being in education has provided me with a great career," he said. "If you have a desire to serve, then you can find no greater calling than doing what we're doing in this area. It's very fulfilling. In my role, I am able to touch nearly every student at some point in their college career, whether it's academic affairs, financial aid, career placement or almost anything else."
Young, who served five years as associate vice president for Urban and Academic Initiatives at Texas A&M-Commerce, said that the word "strategic" in his job title was significant.
"It's so much more than just about the recruitment of students," he said. "It's about enhancing the students' entire life cycle. All the areas that engage and impact a student have a purpose, and they all have the ability to support each student — financial aid, residence life, student engagement, etc.," he said.
"A student needs to know they have a reasonable chance of graduating on time, and if there are challenges, then people will be there to guide them. The student does not need to go looking — the services are there."
Data, he added, was an important part of the decision making process. "We don't operate on hunches and hopes. We're making data-driven decisions with expected outcomes that can be replicated and justified," he said.
"In our division, one thing is key — if a student comes to us with a question, even if it's not in our area, we can listen and direct that student to the appropriate place with the least amount of stress," he continued. "We don't just recruit you. We want to see you flourish. We are recruiting future alumni, not just students."
Young said that in order to have great alumni, undergraduate students needed to have a great experience in college. "If we're doing our job well, students will go home and when they're asked how it's going in school, they're going to be able to say it's great," he said. "That will happen when we create an atmosphere in which students grow, feel empowered and encouraged. That affinity that we hope to create with students is not necessarily seen as a requirement at other universities, but we believe in that here."
He said that for him, the best feeling was on commencement days. "At graduation, I can recall personal engagements with students as they receive their diplomas," he said. "If we invite you in, we'll make sure you graduate and either get job offers or have graduate school options. That's the day everyone wins. The student wins, the family wins, the community wins."
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