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W. Kent Barnds 


Twenty-six-year higher education career during which I have demonstrated and documented achievement in: institutional leadership; innovation; management; supervision; staff development; employee engagement and team building; planning and monitoring budgets; strategic planning and campus planning; communication and interpersonal interaction with diverse stakeholders; and, putting my liberal arts education to work by solving complex problems, making connections where they are not always apparent and communicating with passion about the value of higher education. I have been quoted in the Washington PostWall Street JournalChronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed, Insight into Diversity and University Business and have written dozens of articles and editorials that have appeared in national media outlets on topics related to college admissions and higher education leadership.


* Experienced higher education professional, complex problem solver, strategic thinker, and creative leader

* Goal-driven and energetic, motivator and mentor to high-preforming advancement, enrollment and communications teams

* Data-informed decision-maker and agile, practical, big-picture thinker

* Impactful institutional leader, persuasive communicator, active listener and proven collaborator with an unmatched work ethic


Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a national college of the liberal arts and sciences with an enrollment of 2,500 undergraduate students. The college offers more than 90 academic programs, high-quality music ensembles and nationally competitive Division III athletics, ranking to the top 10 in the nation in producing COSIDA Academic All-Americans. The annual operating budget is $135,000,000. (2005 to present)

Executive Vice President of External Relations (July 2017 to present)

Serving in an institutional leadership role as the chief enrollment (admissions, financial assistance, retention), advancement (development, alumni relations, parent relations) communications strategist (media relations, competitive position strategy, public relations, brand advancement, publications, web communication) and planning office (strategic, campus master planning and institutional planning).

Serving on the President’s Cabinet as executive vice president of the college with responsibilities for campus master planning, risk management and board relations.

Leading a division of nearly 60 professionals. Direct reports include executive director of admissions, associate vice president of enrollment/director of financial assistance, assistant vice president of communication and marketing, director of alumni relations, associate vice president for advancement, four major gift officers, director of advancement service, and CEO of WVIK (Quad Cities Public Radio).

Current responsibilities include:

  • Serving on the President’s Cabinet in a senior leadership role
  • Partnering with the president of the college on strategic decisions
  • Implementing Augustana 2020, the college’s strategic plan
  • Stewarding and implementing Augustana’s Campus Master Plan
  • Leading all college fundraising efforts
  • Leading all recruitment and enrollment management efforts
  • Leading institutional communication and marketing strategy
  • Leading a comprehensive campaign of $125,000,000
  • Staffing the Enrollment and Student Engagement, Advancement and Campus Planning committees of the Augustana College Board of Trustees
  • On-boarding and orienting inaugural vice-president for diversity, equity and inclusion

Noteworthy achievements:

  • Redesigned all campaign related-materials and strategies
  • Received Board authorization to launch the public phase of comprehensive fundraising campaign
  • Completed planning phase for $8.5 million expansion of science facilities
  • Exceeded philanthropic support goal for science building expansion
  • Integrated the Enrollment, Advancement and Communication and Marketing into Division of External Relations
  • Introduced President’s Advisory Committee to advice the president and build deeper alumni and donor affinity
  • Reorganized Alumni Board to strategically align its purpose with the college’s strategic objectives
  • Successfully introduced athletic fundraising component to advancement efforts

Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning, and Executive Vice President of the College (November 2012 to June 2017

Served as chief enrollment (admissions, financial assistance, retention, etc.), communication strategist (media relations, competitive position strategy, public relations, brand advancement, publications, web communications, etc.) and planning officer (strategic and institutional planning). Convened the President’s Cabinet in the president’s absence.

  • Served as interim institutional leader of Advancement
  • Served in the role of acting president during extended absences of the president
  • Completed a comprehensive review of Augustana’s division of Institutional Advancement
  • Completed plans to re-launch a comprehensive fundraising campaign
  • Served as the chief strategic planning officer, with responsibility to work with the president and provost in developing strategic initiatives and specifically charged with the responsibility to maintain an entrepreneurial outlook for new possibilities at Augustana
  • Served as the chief campus planning officer and strategist with the responsibility of working with the Campus Planning Committee in putting the campus master plan into place
  • Served as liaison with the Board of Trustees with primary responsibility for working with the president to plan and execute board meetings
  • Assisted in coordination of the day-to-day affairs of the president’s office, in the president’s absence and as otherwise needed

Noteworthy achievements:

  • Increased student of color representation in the entering class from 9% to 26% over a 13-year period of time
  • Increased international student representation in the entering class enrollment from less than 1% to nearly 15% over a 10-year period of time
  • Increased out of state enrollment in the entering class from 10% to 20% over a ten year period of time
  • Established access-driven partnerships with Community Based Organizations to expand diversity and inclusion
  • Developed two strategic recruitment plans in 10 years
  • Completed comprehensive inventory of retention efforts and programs
  • Completed comprehensive inventory of diversity efforts and programs
  • Collaborated in the development of a financial aid program and retention program designed to reduce attrition from first to second academic year
  • Introduced Early Decision and Early Action programs
  • More than doubled the applicant pool over the course of ten years
  • Improved selectivity significantly over ten years
  • Organized planning, oversaw and completed construction of the Gerber Center for Student life, which combines the library, dining and student activities
  • Led task force responsible for planning renovations of fine arts facilities on campus.
  • Completed the planning and construction process for new theatre facilities
  • Assisted with the solicitation of lead gift to name new theatre facilities
  • Completed comprehensive review of the college’s progress implementing its Campus Master Plan
  • Completed comprehensive review of the college’s competitive position
  • Conducted a comprehensive review of the culture of safety at Augustana College.
  • Coordinated the development of an annual report on Institutional Effectiveness and Mission Fulfillment in a shift toward focusing on outcomes
  • Regularly prepared and facilitated plenary session discussions for the college’s Board of Trustees

Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning, (March 2010 to present)

  • Led an institution-wide strategic planning process as planning committee chair
  • Designed a strategic planning process focused on enterprise risk management (ERM) involving a broad range of stakeholders
  • Organized and opened a regional Office of Admissions in Lombard, Illinois
  • Added a regional admission representative in Southern California
  • Led a campus-wide task force developing a five-year capital plan for plant improvement and reinvestment
  • Led a task force exploring the feasibility of developing a model of campus life that properly reflects the values of a residential liberal arts college by combining dining, the library and student activities into a centralized “center for student life”
  • Staff committees of the Board of Trustees: Executive, Enrollment and Student Engagement and Campus Planning
  • Led search for chief financial officer for Augustana College
  • Developed and implemented a positioning platform for president and other senior leaders to gain national visibility
  • Gained national visibility as a thought leader within admissions, enrollment and higher education
  • Developed strategies to introduce five new majors and two new varsity athletic programs
  • Successfully developed and mentored leaders in the areas of admissions, financial assistance, communication and marketing
  • Assisted in development of crisis communication plans
  • Developed the framework for an outcome-focused assessment of institutional effectiveness and mission fulfillment
  • Introduced a successful recruitment event and accompanying promotion of the college’s success in producing Academic All-Americans
  • Led several in-depth research and assessment projects to examine the effectiveness of programs and services
  • Maximized the use of technology to streamline reporting, data-gathering and assessment and transitioned to a culture of data-based decision making
  • Successfully integrated Communication and Marketing and Web Services into a marketing-oriented Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) model
  • Coordinated complete website design and created department of Web Services
  • Introduced social media strategies to complement on-going communication efforts (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Ads, etc.)
  • Developed brand messaging and communication resources for those most directly involved in active recruitment and brand advancement (i.e. faculty and coaches)
  • Oversaw redesign of admissions publications
  • Coordinated successful transition of the Annual President’s Report from print to an online, interactive format
  • Developed a plan to systematically “re-qualify” inquiries to better focus recruitment efforts and manage limited fiscal resources
  • Implemented a multicultural recruitment plan that improved first-year multicultural enrollment from 8% in 2006 to more than 24% in 2015
  • Expanded the number of states represented in the first-year class from 12 in 2005 to 21 in 2015
  • Introduced a test-optional admission policy in 2008
  • Achieved membership in the Common Application
  • Introduced the admissions interview

Acting President (May 2012 to August 2012)

  • Represented Augustana College as acting president while President Steven C. Bahls was on sabbatical
  • Developed and conducted a survey of “best practices” for nine benchmark institutions
  • Worked with Board of Trustees and finance team to renegotiate institutional debt
  • Worked with Board of Trustees and finance team to issue $7M in new debt
  • Worked closely with key donor to complete an $9M capital gift
  • Worked with Human Resources to develop a new employee orientation program
  • Oriented new chief financial officer
  • Provided regular communication to the Board of Trustees and campus community
  • Completed a comprehensive review of the Office of the President
  • Met frequently with key Board members and Board leadership

Vice President of Enrollment and Communication   (July 2008 to March 2010)

Promoted by president in July of 2008 to serve as chief communication officer and strategist (web, print, verbal, brand, market-research analyst, etc.) in a reorganized Communication and Marketing unit

Vice President of Enrollment, (July 2005 to July 2008)

Hired following a national search to serve as vice president of enrollment, leading and overseeing the offices of admissions and financial aid. 

Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA, A regional comprehensive college with an enrollment of about 1,800 students.

Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management, (July 2002 to July 2005)

Served as chief admissions, financial aid, enrollment, (admissions, financial aid, retention, and orientation programs) marketing and media relations officer and strategist. Direct reports included director of financial aid and director marketing and media relations.

Significant Achievements:

  • Developed and completed an implementation of a plan to increase total enrollment by 12.5% from 1,500 to more than 1,855 in a five-year period
  • Successfully implemented strategies to significantly increase applicant pool by 27% for fall of 2001.. At the time, achieved largest applicant pool (2,904) in 2004
  • Oversaw a strategic decrease in the percentage of accepted applicants (selectivity) by more than 10% in the course of five years. Improved selectivity from 78% to 64%
  • Innovated yield efforts and improved overall yield from less than 25% to more than 30% for Fall 2004
  • Responsible for most successful first-year enrollment in 10 years and four of the top-five largest entering classes
  • Achieved a 5% increase in first-year student retention over the course of the three years served as dean
  • Directed and executed a successful recruitment plan to enroll the first cohort to newly introduced college honors program
  • Assumed responsibility for the coordination of new student orientation programs
  • Implemented an office plan emphasizing co-coordination of major projects to stabilize and strengthen long-term efforts
  • Created and served as chair of on-campus Enrollment Management Group (EMG)

Director of Admissions and Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management (July 1997 to July 2002)

Associate Director of Admissions, (July 1995 to July 1997)

Assistant Director of Admissions, (July 1994 to July 1995)

Admissions Counselor, (July 1992 to July 1994)


Collaboration and Leadership Involvement at Augustana College

Task Force Member for Blue, Gold and Beautiful (2018 to present); Committee of Harassment and Discrimination (2016 to present); Title IX Hearing Panelist (2015 to present); Strategic Enrollment Task Force—Chair (2015); Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Steering Committee (2014-15); Strategic Planning Coordination Committee (2013-2014); Environmental Scanning Task Force—Chair (Spring 2013); Football Stadium Improvement Committee—Chair (2011-2013); Chief Financial Officer Search Committee—Co-Chair (2011-12); Strategic Planning Committee—Chair (2010-11); Capital Planning Task Force—Chair (2010-11); Center for Student Life Task Force—Chair (2010-11); Additional 11th Women’s Athletic Program Task Force (2009); Website Evaluation Task Force-Chair (2007 to 2009); Tuition Revenue Committee (2115 to present); Retention Action Committee (2005 to present); Budget Committee (2005 to present); International Studies Committee (2005 to present); Athletic Committee (2005 to present); Enrollment Management Committee (2005 to present); Educational Policies Committee (2005 to present); Scholarship Committee (2005 to present); Diversity Initiatives Committee (2005 to present); Student Center Task Force-Chair (2006 to 2007); Honors Committee (2005 to 2007).

Collaboration and Leadership Involvement at Elizabethtown College

Strategic Planning Committee (2003-2005); Web Oversight Committee—Chair (2003 to 2005); Faculty/Staff Campaign Committee (2003-2004); Resources and Planning Committee (1999-2002); Campus Information System Implementation Team (2001); Ad-Hoc Honors Program Development Committee (1999); Middle States Institutional Self Study Steering Team (1998-1999); Marketing Roundtable Committee (1997 to 2005).


The Case for Change in College Admissions, USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice (2011); Institute of Educational Management (IEM), Harvard University Graduate School of Education (2003); Summer Institute on AdmissionsHarvard University (2001); Management Experience in College Admission-Assuming a Leadership PositionIndianapolis, IN (1998); Summer Institute on College Entrance, Academic Placement, and Student Financial Assistance, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (1995); The 13th Fitzwilliam Experience-Conference of College Admissions CounselorsFitzwilliam, NH (1994)Summer Workshop on College AdmissionsFairfield University, Fairfield, CT (1992)


Data-gathering for a stronger institutional value proposition (2016, 2015); Academic Impressions Webcast; Key strategies for controlling turnover in admissions (2015); Academic Impressions Webcast; Incorporating faculty in student recruitment (2016,2015, 2014), Academic Impressions Webcast; Enrollment Challenges 2015 & Beyond: Shifting sand, decreasing numbers and revenue implications (2014), PaperClip Communications Webcast; Putting a face on the liberal arts: Using students to connect audiences to the liberal arts experience (2014); American Marketing Association Symposium on Higher Education: The most important research you’ve probably never done (2012), American Marketing Association Symposium on Higher Education; Strategic planning and risk: A model for the challenges we face (2012), The Higher Learning Commission;  Up, up and away: Unbridled growth in freshman applicant pools, (2012Midwest Regional College Board Meeting; Managing a High Preforming Admissions Team, (2011, 2013), Academic Impressions Webcast; Recruiting and Retaining Male Students: Option for Programs and Support,  (2010), Academic Impressions Webcast; Data-drive Retention Strategies: Connecting Enrollment, Mission and Support Services, (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Academic Impressions Conference (Faculty)); Communicating Institutional Affordability (2010, 2013, 2014), Academic Impressions Webcast; 50 Things Every Department Chair Should Know (enrollment portion),  (2010), Academic Impressions Webcast; Marketing and Communicating Institutional Affordability in 2009,  (2009), Academic Impressions Webcast; Innovative Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) to Achieve College Planning Goals, (2009) Higher Ed Hero webinar; Selecting, Building, Developing and Retaining a Professional Admissions Staff in the Age of the Millennial Worker, (2009), NACAC; Recruiting Homeschooled Students, (2007), IACAC; Transparency in Communicating Assessment Data, (2007) Higher Learning Commission.


Guest blogger for Huffington Post College—The blog covers topics that may be of interest to families navigating the college admissions process. Examples may be viewed here:

Guest blogger for Academic Impressions—The blog focuses on practical advice for admissions professionals. Examples may be viewed here:

Early FAFSA: Fast, but will it go far?Inside Higher Ed

Uncertainty, unpredictability and chaos” Inside Higher Ed

A parade of horribles?Inside Higher Ed

What’s so funny about unity, focus and understanding,” Inside Higher Ed

The best pricing model: Transparency,” Inside Higher Ed

College financial aid letters can get complicated, but are rarely trickery,” Hechinger Report

Hardly anyone pays full price for college anymore, deal with it,” Hechinger Report

A game changer for financial aid,” Insider Higher Ed

Transparency, not gimmicks, should guide college pricing,” Inside Higher Ed

’Competency’ and Residential Colleges,” Inside Higher Ed

The worth claim: Beyond Brand,” Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly

“The worth claim affects branding differently than a value proposition.” Spin Sucks

“Leaders for small colleges,” Inside Higher Ed

“Getting into the admissions office,” Inside Higher Ed

“A college experience you can count on,” University Business

Aspiring Professionals, take note and send notes,” IACAC’s The Admission Essay

What’s it like to be a Republican in Iowa? Ask a high school senior,” Campus Overload, Washington Post Online

Money Talk Should Arrive Earlier to the Admission Conversation,” SEM Source

The Risky Business of Strategic Planning,” University Business

Shrinking market, expanding roll,” SEM Source

Souls for Sale,” Inside Higher Ed

Net Price vs. Net Worth,” Inside Higher Ed

Determining root causes of concern with the performance appraisal process,” College & University

 Making the To-Be List,” Inside Higher Ed

 Millennials Invading: Building Training for Today’s Admissions Counselors,” College and University

Hiring in Admissions,” Inside Higher Ed.

Leadership 101 in Admissions,” GDA-IS

Higher Education Remains a Bargain,” Denver Post

Deadliest Catch’ as Inspiration,” Inside Higher Ed.

 Split Division III? Proceed with Caution,” Inside Higher Ed.

An Open Letter on Transition,” University Business Magazine


Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA (1992), B.A. Political Science (minors in Spanish and history)

Regis University, Denver, CO (2007), M.S. Management;

Regis University, Denver, CO (2006), Certificate, Organizational Leadership

Harvard University Graduate School of Education, (2003), Institute of Educational Management (IEM), Certificate

Center for Cross-Cultural Study, Seville, Spain (1990), study abroad


  • 2018 Commencement Speaker, Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf, IA
  • 2007 Young Alumni Achievement for Professional Development, Gettysburg College
  • 2005 Loyal and Dedicated Service to Pennsylvania Association for College Admissions Counseling
  • 1992 Pennsylvania Association for College Admissions Counseling “Promising Young Professionals Award” 


  • Alumni Association Board of Directors, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA (2016 to present), Executive Committee and Vice President for Development
  • EAB Enrollment Solutions Advisory Board (2017 to present)
  • Lay Eucharistic Minister, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa (2014 to present)
  • Personnel Committee, chair, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa (2017 to present)
  • Personnel Committee, member, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa (2016 to present)
  • Blood Centers of America Cooperative (BCA), Strategic Planning Consultant (2016, 2017)
  • Appleton Blood Center, Strategic Planning Consultant (2016 and 2018)
  • Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, Strategic Planning Consultant (2015, 2018)
  • Connecticut College Enrollment Operations Audit (2018)
  • Board of Trustees, Rivermont Collegiate K-12, Bettendorf, Iowa, Trustee, Vice Chair, Executive Committee (2008 to 2017)
  • Vestry Member, Trinity Anglican Church, Rock Island, Illinois (2008 to 2010)
  • Lay Eucharistic Minister, Trinity Anglican Church, Rock Island, Illinois (2005 to 2010)
  • Midland University, Fremont, NE Enrollment Operations Audit (2009), Strategic Planning and Competitive Position Audit (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • University of the South Enrollment Operations Audit (2008)
  • Connecticut College Enrollment Operations Audit (2018)
  • Finlandia University (2015) Board of Trustees Retreat Presentation on Enrollment Management and Institutional Positioning Trends
  • Selection committee for The Dr. Thomas Dooley Memorial Scholarship (2006 to present)
  • Selection committee for Royal Neighbor’s of America Scholarship (2006 to 2017)


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