More than a decade ago, Robin Brown joined Colorado State University to pioneer the university’s efforts in enrollment and access. She became the first ever Vice President for Enrollment and Access at CSU in May 2006 and since has established an incredible legacy.
It was serendipity that brought Brown to CSU.
“When I thought about where I wanted to end my career, I knew I wanted to be at a land-grant university,” said Brown. “Being an avid outdoors person, Colorado was the perfect place for me. So, I jumped at the chance to come to Colorado State University and it’s been the best place I’ve ever worked. There’s just an incredible environment here.”
As Vice President for Enrollment and Access, Brown oversees Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment, the Access Center and the Registrar’s Office. When Brown arrived in 2006, those offices were brought together into one cohesive division, the Division of Enrollment and Access, leading to extraordinary results.
“My goal as the first Vice President for Enrollment and Access here was to build a successful enrollment division,” said Brown. “It was the first time all of these four units were under one vice president. It was just a golden opportunity. How many people get to come into a university and build their own division?”
With her successful team approach, she paved the way for extraordinary, double-digit gains in diversity, transfer students, and overall enrollment. During Brown’s tenure, the university has seen historic growth in all three areas. In 2016, the university saw milestone numbers with the largest freshman class, number of transfers, and overall enrollment at 33,198 students.
Brown credits her leadership team for much of the success.
“I have an incredible leadership team,” said Brown. “We’re successful because of the leaders of each of the units.”
Supporting student success
Since Brown’s arrival, the Division of Enrollment and Access also has been instrumental in supporting student success initiatives on campus, helping to increase retention and graduation rates. Twenty percent of the university’s Community for Excellence students come through Access Center programs. Through the Access Center, key partnerships have been established with community colleges and organizations such as the Denver Scholarship Foundation and Colorado GEAR UP.
Also under Brown’s leadership, the university was the first west of the Mississippi to adopt the Common Application, allowing students to apply to more than one university with the same application. The implementation of a new software system has streamlined the entire admissions process at the university.
The creation of the Transfer Center under Brown’s guidance has helped facilitate the transition of transfer students to the university. The Center connects students with resources to make an informed decision about transferring and ensures a smooth transition to the university.
Master fly fisher
While a master in the areas of enrollment, access, and retention, Brown surprisingly is a master in another area. She is a master fly fisher.
“Two friends of mine signed me up for a fly fishing lesson 15 years ago, and I was immediately hooked,” said Brown. “What I love about fly fishing is that it’s a sport where you never stop learning. There are hundreds of different kinds of casts to make. You have to know entomology. You have to know what is hatching in the river so you know what imitative fly to put on your line.”
Brown is now a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor and has shared her incredible talent with several leaders on campus including College of Business Dean Beth Walker, College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Jeff McCubbin, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Executive Director of Finance and Strategic Services Thom Hadley, and Warner College of Natural Resources Dean John Hayes.
“It’s an endeavor that I get so absorbed in, nothing else exists,” said Brown. “It’s my physical, spiritual get away, just leaving it all behind and concentrating on a passion I love.”
History of achievement
Before joining CSU, Brown was the vice president for enrollment at Willamette University. Under her tenure at Willamette, both applications and ethnic diversity increased by a substantial amount. Before joining Willamette in 2000, Brown served as interim director of undergraduate admission at The Ohio State University and associate director of admissions and orientation at Oregon State University.
Brown has been active in many academic organizations. She is the Chair of the National Council for Enrollment Planning and Policy, a select group of 25 enrollment managers from around the country, and a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, American Association of Collegiate Registrars Admission Officers, and the College Board.
Bucket list of rivers
Brown will retire from CSU this June, but just like everything she’s accomplished at the university, she’ll wholeheartedly embrace her other passion. She’ll be focused on checking off her bucket list of rivers to fish and sharing her gift of fly casting instruction to those who want to learn from a master.