Dean R. Kahler, who helped establish record levels of student enrollment and retention at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, will join UALR on Nov. 5 as vice chancellor of enrollment management, Chancellor Joel E. Anderson announced this week.
For the past two years, Kahler has served as executive director of Navitas at WKU, a program for graduate and undergraduate international students. His former positions at WKU have been associate vice president for academic affairs – enrollment management and director of the Office of Admissions. From 1995 to 2001, he was assistant director of the Office of Admissions and Records at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
“As UALR’s first vice chancellor for enrollment management, Dr. Kahler will bring experience and energetic leadership to increase overall enrollment and to achieve a mix of students at UALR that aligns with our purposes and our strengths,” Anderson said. “This is an exciting opportunity for Dr. Kahler to bring clarified purpose and vision to the recruitment, admission, and retention of undergraduate and graduate students across all UALR programs.”
During Kahler’s tenure at Western Kentucky, the university was the fastest growing school in that state. In addition, the retention rates at WKU increased significantly while the school maintained a philosophy of serving all students interested in achieving a college degree.
“I do believe I can transfer that momentum to UALR to meet the future enrollment goals,” Kahler said.
The new vice chancellor cultivated relationships that resulted in a dramatic increase in international students coming to WKU, which recently was listed as a top college destination in the U.S. for international students.
He also has had success working to increase the numbers of first-generation, low-income, and Hispanic students. He founded HOPE – Hispanic Organization for the Promotion of Education – a nonprofit organization in Bowling Green. The organization’s fundraising efforts have helped Hispanic students enroll and stay in school.
Anderson said Kahler will be a key player as UALR faces changes in higher education systems.
“Universities are simultaneously facing declining state support and a mandate to double the number of graduates by 2025,” Anderson said. “UALR must enroll its share of traditional-aged students, and we also must engage with and enroll more students from the large prospective pool of returning adults in Arkansas.”
Kahler earned a Ph.D. in educational administration from Southern Illinois University. He has completed higher education and post-doctoral studies in enrollment management from the University of Florida. He received a master’s degree in public administration at Southern University and a B.S. degree in sociology and criminal justice at Winona State University in Minnesota.