Q+A: Keiko Broomhead, Ed.M.’95
When Berklee decided to revamp how they offered services to their students, they had a key goal in mind: stop the Berklee bounce. Instead of having students “bounce” from one siloed office to another to register for courses, get questions answered about tuition bills, or renew a scholarship, the college created a one-stop shop in one building to make it easier — and more holistic. Keiko Broomhead, Ed.M.’95, as the new vice president for enrollment management at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, as well as their programs in New York and Valencia, says this approach puts students, not the process, at the center. And after 25 years working in higher education in various roles related to enrollment and admissions, it’s this kind of thinking that makes her new job exciting, she says. This fall, Broomhead spoke to Ed. about the one-stop approach, better supporting students, and how it felt to be on the other side of the college admissions process when her son was applying to schools last year.
What exactly is enrollment management?
It’s structured differently at different institutions. It’s really thinking about how you can develop strategies to meet the established institutional goals of enrollment. What those might be is probably different for every institution, but really focusing on policies and strategies and using data to drive those policies and decisions. And typically, enrollment management offices are trying to coordinate all of the related offices. It’s that coordination, and the strategies that you develop, that have to be very integrated.
You’ve been at Berklee since May. How is it going so far?
It's been very fast paced, busy. I have a special connection to Berklee, in that my son attended the Berklee summer programs for about four years when he was in high school. So I have a real fondness for Berklee and the environment. I’m just really excited to be here. It’s definitely something I’m very passionate about. And it was quite interesting going through the process myself as a parent last year. All these years of being in the field and then actually on the other side was a great experience.
Did that experience as a parent affect your work?
It did. I really thought, for example, that my son would apply to Berklee. All the things that you think as an admissions professional, you’re like, “Well, he went to these summer programs, and that really increases a student’s interest in attending that college if they attend a high school program.” So I just statistically thought he would apply. And that’s the thing about college admissions — once a student has decided where they want to go and they really narrow down that list, it’s a real process that's happening within that student. And of course with the parents, too. But really, the student is the one that is driving that decision.
You worked at Wentworth for many years doing similar work. What's been the biggest difference now that you’re at Berklee?
They are completely different places, and I think that's great about higher education. It's just completely different. The students. How things are organized and how services are provided. Both very student-centered, but in very different ways.
Different in what way?
At Berklee, we are helping support students who are artists. And with that is more of a development of the creative mind. And Wentworth is a very hands-on learning place for engineers and architects and students with a very prescribed curriculum and career focus. I think that sets the culture in a very different direction.
Where are you hoping to make the biggest impact at Berklee?
I think that Berklee is very, very much at an exciting point in its history in focusing on the student experience and student retention and persistence. That’s where I'm hoping to have the greatest impact, from the admissions process all the way through graduation. And really supporting students so that they graduate on time and launch their careers.
How are you doing that?
We’re really trying to learn how can we best support the student with our student services and our care. We have a very innovative student success model that was just implemented on campus. The president charged the university to create a kind of wraparound, holistic, personalized approach to student success. We have a really supportive network of student success advising happening: academic advising with a kind of wraparound care that includes mental health and wellness.
I usually hear “wraparound care” used more in K–12 schools, not higher ed.
It’s a great, innovative way to look at student success. The student has one student success adviser assigned and a whole wraparound team with all the offices that are necessary, like our one-stop student center, their academic adviser, and their health and wellness case managers.
When did this start?
It just launched this fall. This is just the first year. I was here for the launch and for what we call the 2.0 version of it as we implement, improve, and enhance it along the way. The big part that’s in my area is the one-stop where we take the front lines, from admissions and the registrar's office and the billing office and have one centralized place for students to go.
It seems like you have a lot under your purview as VP for enrollment management.
It includes admissions recruitment, admissions operations, enrollment operations, enrollment marketing, enrollment analytics, financial aid, the registrar's office, and the one-stop student center services.
What part of that is the most challenging?
It's all pretty challenging. I think enrollment management in general is a pretty challenging area. You're really looking at the enrollment of the entire institution for new students and continuing students.
Did your time at the Ed School impact your thinking in these areas?
Oh, I definitely think so. It gave me a real solid understanding of how higher education works. I also was interested in how to reform higher education when I was at the Ed School. And what I really learned at Harvard was about enrollment management. It’s not just about admitting students and recruiting students, it's really about deciding who to recruit and accept, and then retaining those students. And of course, I still have my colleagues that I met there, too. That was an amazing experience, to have that time with my fellow classmates.
Your parents both taught at the University of Rhode Island. Were you destined to work in higher ed?
I definitely think higher education was my environment that I grew up in. I have an older brother, he’s a professor at the University of South Carolina. And my sister-in-law is also a professor at South Carolina. They’re both in chemistry. So I do think, yeah, there’s a lot of higher education in my family.
You were the first in your family to be born in the United States, correct?
Yes, my parents immigrated from Japan to Rhode Island a year before I was born. My older brother was born in Japan.
Do you go back to Japan to visit?
I lived there after I graduated from Oberlin. I went on the JET program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme) and lived there for two years teaching English before I went to the Ed School. I have not been back since then, so it’s been a long time. I used to go when I was in college. In the summers, I would go a lot. It's definitely a big part of my life, being Japanese. I think it has shaped me tremendously.
In what ways?
I was raised with Japanese language, culture, and values. My parents highly valued learning opportunities and education. I am grateful that my parents strongly encouraged and supported me to approach my education and life experiences through an international lens. I had many international opportunities growing up. … I have always been fascinated by how transformational the higher education experience can be and I applied to HGSE while I was in Japan. My first job after I graduated from HGSE was as an international admissions counselor at Wentworth. I have been in higher education administration ever since.