New enrollment services director draws on previous experience to help at URI
The new director of enrollment services at the University of Rhode Island is tackling the challenges of the department with a hands-on, holistic approach.
Carnell Jones was hired as the new director of enrollment services before the start of the 2012-13 school year, and after five months at the university, he has stuck to his goal to "provide the highest level of customer service to the entire URI community."
As director of enrollment services, the department in charge of all the billing, financial aid and registration for the university, Jones is aware that many people do not know how important the department is.
"[Students] may not know that enrollment services is more than just a front desk," Jones said. "We are truly a one-stop organization."
Since Jones has been at the university, he has made several changes. "I have been very proactive in reaching out to students," Jones said. Jones' first step was to send out emails at the beginning of the fall and spring semester welcoming the students back, informing them of important dates and giving them information of who contact for specific issues.
Jones also plans to send out surveys to both students and faculty in the next few months to see how enrollment services is doing.
"We need to know how we're doing," Jones said. "I want to make sure students feel welcome here."
Commuting from his house in Swansea, Mass., Jones is usually the first one in Green Hall; where enrollment services is housed and the last one to leave.
"The good thing about working here is that you can never really predict how your day is going to go," Jones said. "That's the exciting part. . .it keeps you on your toes."
On a day to day basis, Jones deals with students who owe money to the university, families with concerns and students who "Every time the phone rings [in his office] you know it's a call that couldn't be handled somewhere else so you know you're going to get it."
Before working at URI, Jones worked as a university registrar at University of Massachusetts Amherst for 7 years and previous to that he worked at Harrisville University and Southeast Missouri State. Before his career in higher education, he was an auditor at Ford Motor Company.
Jones graduated from Southeast Missouri State and got his PhD. from the University of Missouri, the school his daughter recently graduated from. He also has a son who is currently in college.
The director of enrollment services at URI was a perfect fit for Jones' skill set.
"Though my background was in banking and finance, my career has been in the registrars area," Jones said. "The position at URI was an opportunity to oversee all the areas I've worked in."
"I can't say I'm a pro at the job," Jones said. "But when I'm talking to a parent or a student its not a foreign language to me. I've been there done that."
Though Jones has directed most of his attention in the last five months to managing the department, he enjoys getting his hands dirty.
"I'm very hands on, probably more hands on than most people are used to," Jones said. "I get in and I'll do every job until I learn its meaning. I'll get in and I'll sit next to someone on the phone, I'll take phone calls. I may not know the answer but I'll always throw my hand up first. I'm not above doing any of the jobs here."
One of the aspects of enrollment services that Jones finds very important is customer service.
"If one upsets you the phone call before, you need to let that go and not carry that over, they're people," Jones said. "It's bringing the human element back. Not saying that it wasn't here before, but since I've been here I want to make sure its reinforced."
Despite the challenges Jones faces on a day-to-day basis, he is more than content with his new position.
"I look at every day as a labor of love," Jones said. "I know it sounds cheesy, but I love getting up every day and coming to work here."
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