Jim Nondorf appointed to top admissions post

Jim Nondorf will be the next Vice President and Dean of College Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Chicago, effective July 1, President Robert J. Zimmer announced Tuesday.

Nondorf is in his third year as Vice President for Enrollment and Dean, Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, N.Y. Prior to RPI, Nondorf worked for six years at Yale University, where he served as Director of Student Outreach and Associate Director of Admissions.

Nondorf's multifaceted campaigns to engage students more deeply helped both schools build some of their strongest classes, with an emphasis on matching the right student to the right institution, while building cultural and intellectual diversity.

"Our College has great momentum and will be well served by Jim's talent for reaching outstanding students who are best prepared to benefit from and contribute to the distinctive education at Chicago," Zimmer said. "I am delighted that he will be joining us."

Nondorf, who grew up in Hammond, Ind., and has family throughout the area, said he is excited to be coming home, to an institution with a strong story to tell.

"I'm looking forward to talking with the brightest students in the nation about the University of Chicago. Chicago has an amazing story to tell prospective students and their families, and it will be an honor to work with our faculty, students, alumni and staff to ensure students hear that message," Nondorf said.

"Jim Nondorf will be an eloquent spokesman for the College's core values, for our extraordinary tradition of general education, for our strong dedication to higher learning in and across the disciplines, and for our commitment to international education," said John Boyer, Dean of the College. "We are extremely fortunate to have identified an outstanding leader in the field to help the faculty continue to recruit very high-ability students with a strong commitment to the College's educational and civic values."

Nondorf earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Yale and a master's degree with a concentration in ethics from Valparaiso University. He began his career in the technology industry, eventually founding, running and taking public start-up Internet companies. He also was a founding teacher for Terrace Community Middle School, a charter school in Tampa, Fla.

He took his interest in technology into higher education, pioneering electronic search tools and a Web site for admitted students, as well as moving alumni volunteer assignments and reports and prospective student scheduling online.

But he says the heart of enrollment, and the prospects for long-term success, lie in the relationships built over time through a thoughtful and ethical admissions process.

College counselors at several prominent high schools praised Nondorf's approach.

"Jim Nondorf combines so much of what we want from admissions people. He's student-centered, he's passionate about his institution, he cuts to the chase about what's important to families," said Jim Conroy of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., who has been a college counselor for 37 years. "He cares so much. He cared about Yale, he cared about RPI, he's going to care about the University of Chicago-and he cares about the kids. He's one of the most energetic, respected admissions people in the country."

Nondorf will succeed Vice President and Dean of College Enrollment Michael Behnke, who previously announced that he would retire in June, after 11 years at the University. Longtime Dean of College Admissions Ted O'Neill recently announced that he would move full-time into teaching, research and writing.

"Jim brings just the right experience to build on the success we have experienced in recent years," Behnke said. "He has accomplished a huge amount in two very different institutions as well as in the private sector, and I think he will appreciate and be an effective spokesperson for Chicago's distinctive culture."