University of the Ozarks President Richard Dunsworth Lifts Enrollment with Tuition Locked Down

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 12:00 am   2 min read

Richard Dunsworth
President of the University of the Ozarks

Richard Dunsworth is from Colorado and took over as president of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville in 2013. He was elected this year to chair the President’s Council of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities.

Dunsworth previously served as an administrator for 22 years at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, where he was interim president and vice president for enrollment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, a master’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and a juris doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also has a certification in educational management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Richard Dunsworth was the first person in his family to obtain a college degree.

How has the university managed to buck the national trend by freezing tuition over the past five years?
The university has been able to hold tuition stable through disciplined price management, a mission-driven approach to financial aid and wonderful support from our alumni and friends to appropriately fund the operation of the university. We will need to increase tuition in the near future. It is our plan to increase tuition only when we have exhausted all other options.

Where do you see the university in the next five years?
The university board of trustees recently adopted a master plan that will help guide the university in the coming decades. Within five years, the university will continue to grow, enrolling 900 students. We will have completed the Climb Higher Capital Campaign and will find ourselves continuing to invest in the lives of young people and serving as an economic engine in Clarksville and the River Valley.

Enrollment at the university has grown by 30 percent since you took the helm. How did you achieve that?
I brought to Ozarks a data-driven, market-smart approach to enrollment management that is built on mission. What we are experiencing now is what author Jim Collins refers to as the flywheel effect. We are seeing the cumulative work of hundreds of people over years, possibly decades, pulling in the same direction.

What was your greatest mistake, and what did you learn from it?
The one that comes to mind is a mistake in a financial model that cost a university approximately $600,000. By the time I discovered the mistake, it was too late to rectify it.

I remember walking into the president’s office, expecting to be terminated, and he looked at me and asked a question. He asked, ‘How are we going to make this mistake worth $600,000?’ Over the next two years, we fully dissected the mistake and publicly reported how it happened, what we learned from it and possible ways to mitigate it in the future. My team and I presented our findings at a national convention, where we were routinely asked, ‘Why would you share this so publicly?’

I learned that if no mistakes are being made, then possibly we are playing not to lose, not playing to win. I learned that mistakes don’t have to be seen as failures.



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