February 7, 2010

Davis Trades Admissions for Consulting Business

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Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, is leaving Cornell after 10 years. Davis, who will not leave until the application decisions for the class of 2014 are complete, has changed the application process, financial aid policy and composition of incoming classes during her time at Cornell. Her replacement has not yet been named.

Davis decided to leave Cornell to start her own business, after nearly 30 years working in higher education.

“I will be starting my own educational consulting business that will focus primarily on providing college counseling services to students who live outside of the United States,” she wrote via email. “I also intend to provide consulting services to international secondary schools.”

No replacement has been named. Provost Kent Fuchs will develop a transition plan to find a successor, Davis wrote.

“I am enormously proud of the success we have had in admissions and financial aid during my time at Cornell,” Davis wrote. “Applications for first-year admission have increased by over 65 percent, and the admissions selection process has become more selective.”

Davis came to Cornell in April of 2000. Previously she worked as the dean of admissions at Barnard College, where she increased applications by more than 122 percent in eight years, according to a Cornell press release from 1999.

Under Davis’ leadership, Cornell’s acceptance rate fell from 32.9 percent in 1999 — the year before she arrived — to 19.1 percent in 2009, the lowest in Cornell’s history, according to data published by the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Cornell’s classes also became more diverse. Minority students represented 28.4 percent of the incoming class in 1999, but increased to 35.7 percent of the class in 2009, according to UAO data.

“The Class of 2013 is the most diverse class in Cornell history,” Davis stated.

The University’s application for undergraduates also saw significant changes during Davis’ time as associate provost. The University switched from a Cornell-specific application to the Common Application, with a Cornell supplement, in 2004. In 2008, Cornell adopted Davis’ proposal to allow applicants to apply to two schools, according to The Sun archives.

“Cornell is where majors and academic interest span more than one college,” Davis said in 2008. Allowing applications to two schools “acknowledges the range and depth of our students … who are equally interested in multiple things.”

Davis changed the University’s financial aid system during her tenure at Cornell. As a result of her leadership, many students with incomes of less than $50,000 will graduate debt-free, said Thomas Keane, director of financial aid for scholarships and policy analysis.

“We’ve seen our scholarship budget increase by $50 million in two years,” Keane said.

Beginning in 2008, Cornell adopted a financial aid policy allowing families with incomes below $75,000 to avoid taking out need-based loans, and families with incomes below $60,000 to avoid making parental contributions, according to The Sun archives.

“The financial aid programs that we have implemented in recent years have helped us to enroll students who may not have been able to afford a Cornell education,” Davis wrote. “We continue to be one of the most socio-economically diverse universities in the United States.”

“I think she’s done a lot for Cornell, and we’re going to miss her,” Keane said.

Original Author: Michael Linhorst