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A finalist for enrollment vice president at the University of Montana has worked as an enrollment consultant for the flagship on two contracts in the last six months.

Jim Hundrieser, one of four finalists UM is interviewing for its recently restructured enrollment and communications vice president position, is associate managing principal at the Association of Governing Boards, Institutional Strategies, or AGBIS.

In November 2017, AGBIS submitted a bid to "assess the current state of enrollment management functions" at UM, and a contract executed the following month set payment for "approximately $17,000" with Hundrieser as the AGB liaison. The enrollment report notes he was the lead consultant and worked with a supporting consultant.

This March, UM signed a contract to pay Hundrieser a fee "of approximately $25,000" at a rate of $6,250 a day for four days; the contract is renewable with services to be provided by Hundrieser and his consultants.

The scope of services said AGB would "continue assisting with enrollment management functions with a focus towards increasing the effectiveness and efficiencies related to undergraduate enrollment." (AGB institutional strategies is affiliated with AGB Search, which conducted the search for UM president and provost.)

In an email, UM spokeswoman Paula Short said UM needed short-term expertise in enrollment after President Seth Bodnar announced an administrative restructure. The reorganization created a new enrollment and communications vice president post, and the former enrollment vice president declined to pursue the revamped position or associate role. Short said hiring Hundrieser made sense as he had already been on campus.

According to his resume, Hundrieser served as vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire from 2012 to 2016, where he "led the university to the two largest first-year classes in the history of the college."

In a phone call, Hundrieser said the freshman class had declined to some 800, and he helped push the figure to 1,400 one year and 1,250 the next, both record achievements at the university. He said he didn't necessarily expect to apply for a position at UM, but he started thinking about the opportunity after his visit in March.

"It really grew out of just an interest in all the strengths of the institution and wondering if I could play a role in helping the president and the university achieve its objectives," said Hundrieser, who is currently based in Washington, D.C., and has a home in New Hampshire.

He doesn't believe the consulting work he's been doing has shaped the job into one that's a fit for him. Rather, Hundrieser said his work has been in operations where he has been looking specifically at the tasks UM should be doing currently to increase enrollment.

One reason he responded to the call for applicants is because he particularly liked how the president moved student affairs out of the role and added in marketing and communications: "I think that concept is what attracted me to the position."

Hundrieser is the editor of a book called "Strategic Enrollment Planning: A Dynamic Collaboration." His resume notes he introduced three academic programs at Plymouth "that aligned market demand and opportunities to grow enrollment by 7 percent."

UM received 35 applicants for the enrollment and communications vice president job, according to the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The search committee interviewed nine candidates via video and selected four finalists for campus visits with public forums. Hundrieser presents at a public forum at 4 p.m. Monday.

"Ultimately, my hope is whether it's me or someone else, that UM finds a really great candidate who will help them continue on its great and important mission," Hundrieser said.

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Higher Education Reporter

Higher education / University of Montana reporter for the Missoulian.