Cathy Cole, the newly hired Vice President of Enrollment and Strategic Communications has no illusions about today’s prospective college students. They live online.

Cole, who was hired in June to replace Dr. Thomas Crady, hails from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, a school with a little over 15,000 students, much the size of the University of Montana.

Cole said she wants to add to the tools in the toolbox of convincing students, and their parents, of the importance of choosing the University of Montana.

“I think some of the bigger tools that I’m going to bring are my background in data to inform how we’ll go about recruiting in the future,” said Cole. “I really do believe that the story is to be told in data, and we do have those numbers, so I’m already studying where we’ve been and where we can go from there.”

Cole said parents of prospective students must also be won over to UM.

“We’re also going to be recruiting parents and other influencers like guidance counselors and teachers,” she said. “A lot of our communications before haven’t reached the right audience, so we’re shifting some of the focus to make sure that we are reaching the right people at the right time with the right with the right channel.”

Cole acknowledges that fact that MSU’s engineering and agriculture emphases attract a certain kind of student, but she wants to zero in on the student who will be the right fit at UM.

“We’re really developing marketing and communications strategies to fit the type of student that will be successful at the University of Montana,” she said. “I’m looking for all different kinds of ways to not only reach out to those students, but to help them see themselves on this campus and have really a robust academic experience with us.”

Cole also believes the school must conduct outtake studies to find out to better direct the focus of its recruitment efforts.

“We need to look at the students who come here, who persist and who graduate, so that we know the type of student that we need to be looking at in the recruitment process, which really starts as early as the sixth grade, so I’m really all about the numbers right now and trying to see what story it’s telling me.”

Cole was one of 35 applicants for the position.

The former enrollment specialist was Dr. Thomas Crady, whose salary of approximately $170,000 per year was supplemented by a $70,000 bonus.