Former academic support head returns to help stem enrollment dip

Samira Felix
Staff Writer

University of La Verne alumnus, former faculty member and former head of academic advising  Eric Bishop returned to the University of La Verne this month, after many years away, in the new role of interim vice president of enrollment management on Nov. 7. 

Bishop held positions here between 1988 and 2007. He was an associate professor of journalism and Campus Times adviser, associate dean of academic support and retention, and director of academic advising. 

When he left the University, he went to Chaffey College where he served as dean of the Fontana campus and vice president of student service until 2020, when he was named president of Ohlone College in Fremont. He recently returned to Southern California for personal reasons, he said. 

While at Ohlone, Bishop said he mostly worked remotely because he started amid the pandemic. While there, he was responsible for transitioning back to in-person classes and increasing student enrollment.  

“It was a great experience,” Bishop said. “It allowed us to focus on equity initiatives, diversity initiatives, despite the college’s enrollment, because it was one of the worst performing colleges in terms of enrollment in the state.” 

When the University’s Vice President of Enrollment Mary Aguayo announced her resignation, Bishop said he spoke to President Devorah Lieberman about the interim position and the possibility of him returning. 

“I always have an interest in helping out my alma mater, so it was really just fortuitous timing,” Bishop said. 

Bishop will be in charge of the search for a permanent vice president of enrollment management, and he will be doing an assessment of enrollment management strategies to give recommendations to address La Verne’s recent enrollment decline. 

“I’m looking to do what we can do to kind of stem the tide and be active and engaging and get a class that meets the financial needs of the institution,” Bishop said.

George Keeler, journalism professor who was Bishop’s professor and colleague for many years, said Bishop is perfect for the position.

“Eric is the perfect person to make relationships,” Keeler said. “The only way to really recruit students from the community colleges is to get out there and talk to the leadership, counselors and the presidents of the community colleges. Every time someone talks to Eric Bishop they leave as a lifelong friend.” 

Paul Alvarez, professor of kinesiology and president of the Faculty Senate who also worked with Bishop, said Bishop is very student-centered and is the type of person who starts asking questions when no one will. 

“I know sometimes that puts a lot of pressure on him to try to resolve things that maybe aren’t quite in his lane, as people would say,” Alvarez said. “But it doesn’t stop him from saying, ‘Hey, let me look into this,’ or ‘Hey, let me get back to you if we can fix this situation.’ All of it is designed to make sure that the students had the best experience possible.”

Bishop said that building relationships and collaboration is a key skill for this position. 

“Enrollment is more than recruiting,” Bishop said. “Enrollment is retention, it is student engagement and it’s the student experience. It is everything that brings students to the college, keeps them enrolled and ultimately gets them out of the college in a cap and gown.”

He added that he hopes he can do a good job, and he is happy to give back to the University. 

“I have very strong roots at the institution,” Bishop said. “It’s an important entity for me in my life. Anything I can do that helps it and our community to be successful is important.”

Bishop’s contract runs through June 30, 2023.

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu.

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Samira Felix, a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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