James to lead Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

Scott James has returned to the University of Washington Bothell to stay. James was recently named vice chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, a newly created position on campus that he starts June 1. 

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. Scott James has accepted my offer to take on this new role and will help bring our vision for UW Bothell to life,” said UW Bothell Chancellor Wolf Yeigh. “Scott, who has been with us through our remote operations during the pandemic, has decades of experience and a successful record in both student life and enrollment management. 

“His experience, authenticity and willingness to lead change will be an asset for us all.” 

James says he is excited that the position he will take on is a new one that will oversee both Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, which are currently separate divisions at UW Bothell. “I’ve integrated the two divisions before. There is a lot of synergy between the two groups,” he said. “We have the opportunity to support the work that academic affairs is doing more holistically.” 

How does a person combine two divisions? Slowly, James said, noting that it is not a corporate merger and that there is no set deadline. He also must help navigate the challenge of bringing employees back after a long pandemic. 

“I’ll be looking for the low-hanging fruit,” he said, “while keeping students at the center of all we do.” 

Welcome Back 

Before joining UW Bothell last summer, Scott served in high-level leadership roles at Salem State University, Harvard University, New Jersey City University and other higher education institutions. He received a master of education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University. 

James was introduced to UW Bothell about five years ago when he did a fellowship under Chancellor Yeigh. He returned last summer to lead Enrollment Management on an interim basis following the retirement of former lead Steve Syverson. 

A lifelong New England resident, James came to Bothell for the fellowship in June 2014 and “realized I could live somewhere else.” His leather dress shoes got soggy that year, he admitted, but said he has since acquired footwear more appropriate for the Puget Sound region. 

It was UW Bothell’s mission that drew him back, James said. “This place has a lot of great things going for it, a lot of potential,” he said. “The University has an incredibly compelling mission. If it didn’t exist, someone would have to create it.” 

The culture of the UW Bothell community was also a draw. “A lot of places have a ‘yes but’ culture. UW Bothell has a ‘yes and’ culture.” 

He said he is also particularly looking forward to being back on campus and meeting with people in person. “I’ve built great relationships with people already,” he said. “If I can connect this much remotely, it will be that much better in person.” 

Opportunities ahead

James takes the helm at a time of growth and opportunity for the campus. The campus is due to welcome its next chancellor later this year. A groundbreaking is planned this summer for the construction of a new academic building for the STEM disciplines. Construction of new residence buildings and a dining facility is set to begin in 2022. 

“There is a lot of possibility that comes with more housing,” James said. “It will open markets for us that might not otherwise be open.” 

James said there is opportunity to rethink co-curricular life at the University and that he will partner with Academic Affairs to work on student retention. “We need to provide services and supports for people. We also need to provide benefits to commuter students. It’s important to focus on all students, not just residential students. 

“The campus is at a place in maturity where we need to have challenging conversations about who we are, who we serve and how we’ll get there,” James said. “Enrollment and student experience should be at the center of those conversations.” 

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