Sharon M. Alston
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment
Dr. Sharon Alston is Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment. This is the area within the Office of the Provost which is tasked with the recruitment, admission, and enrollment of new first year and transfer students to American University, as well as providing financial support for students attending the university. In her capacity as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Enrollment Management, she oversees the offices of Admissions, Administration and Fiscal Affairs, Enrollment Marketing (including the Admissions Welcome Center), Financial Aid, and Systems.
Sharon has been a member of the American University community since 2000, serving as Director of Admissions and Executive Director for Enrollment Management prior to being named as Vice Provost in July of 2011. In addition to her service to the university, Sharon’s professional affiliations include The College Board, the Common Application, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Potomac and Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling. Her experiences prior to joining the AU community include serving for seven years as a director of college counseling at a local independent school as well as admissions experience at four other public and private universities.
B.A. (Psychology) Franklin and Marshall College
M. Ed. (Urban Education) Temple University
Ph. D. (Education Policy, Planning, and Administration) University of Maryland College Park
The Department of Administration and Fiscal Affairs is responsible for supporting the operations of the Office of Enrollment (OE). Toward that end, the responsibilities of this team include personnel management, budget, business operations, facilities, and equipment. The department plays a key role in analyzing and developing policies, advising, and implementing changes on a continuing basis. The department also runs a fulfillment center (Enrollment Communications) for the Office of Enrollment. This center includes state-of-the-art mailing and printing equipment which is used to support the work of the OE. This includes preparing and printing outgoing correspondence; processing and mailing paper communications; preparing and mailing recruitment
orders; printing and copying documents and publications; and processing incoming mail. The largest single mailing managed by this area is the Student Search which includes a mailing to more than 150,000 student prospects annually. While much of the work of this area is done to support the efforts of the Office of Enrollment, Enrollment Communications assists other areas of the university as well. In fact, of the more 1.5 million pieces of incoming and outgoing mail processed by Enrollment Communications, approximately 10 percent of that work is in support of other units throughout the campus.
Admissions is the "gateway" or entry point into the University. As such it is the office tasked with the recruitment, admission, and conversion of prospective first year and transfer students seeking to enroll at American University. These goals are accomplished using a variety of strategies including regional recruitment travel, campus-based and regional event programming and other personal outreach; all with the intention of identifying and selecting best-fit students for American University. The office is staffed by 20 professionals who are divided into four regional teams to manage both domestic and international outreach. While much of the work of this office is focused outwardly, it could not be done without the enthusiastic support and cooperation of campus partners.
The Marketing department within the Office of Enrollment serves prospective students and their families via targeted communications, on- and off-campus events, and timely responses to questions and inquiries. The department handles all digital and print communication campaigns as they relate to undergraduate recruitment and financial aid (for both prospective and enrolled students). For events, the department leads and manages the Admissions Welcome Center, which welcomes approximately 25,000 visitors annually. Additionally, the department’s events team not only plans the logistics of on- and off-campus events, they also serve as liaisons to academic and administrative units to develop and implement dynamic recruitment and conversion
activities. Finally, the department’s call center is ready to help students and families by taking their calls and responding to their emails.
The Financial Aid office (FA) assists students in financing an American University education. The Financial Aid Office has 24 professional staff members, who provide financial aid guidance to students and families from the point of admission through graduation and beyond. Through the administration of over 300 million dollars in federal, state and institutional aid, FA provides resources to help families in meeting their educational expenses. In addition, FA is tasked with ensuring regulatory compliance in the administration of aid programs. The Financial Aid office works closely with other university office to support the recruitment and retention of the graduate and undergraduate populations.
In order to ensure access to quality education for AU students, the university has made a strong commitment to a comprehensive financial aid program which recognizes both academic excellence and demonstrated financial need. Financial assistance comes in several forms: grants/scholarships, low interest loans, and employment.
The Systems area processes an average of 550,000 admissions and financial aid documents annually. This includes the electronic transmission, data entry, and processing of these records. The nine staff members in this area are responsible for the accuracy, analysis, reporting, and processing of the computer information systems for the Office of Enrollment. The area includes a fully automated document imaging system. In the performance of their duties, the staff in Systems maintain electronic communication with a variety of organizations which are all tied in some way to the enrollment process. These include but are not limited to the Department of Education, Common Application Organization,
College Board, American College Testing, and the Educational Testing Service.