Few things could capture Matt Ruth’s heart more than his hometown Philadelphia Phillies, but Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) has managed to do it. And as EMU’s new director of admissions, he’s helping the institution capture others’ hearts, too.
“I love working at EMU,” Ruth says. “It certainly has benefited me with what I was able to get out of it as a student, and now I’m paying it forward. That sounds cliché, but I love that we’re a small, private, Christian liberal arts university, and I love Harrisonburg. It’s the epitome of a college town. There are so many good opportunities here.”
Ruth grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and came to EMU to study health and physical education. He graduated in 2006 and entered Mennonite Voluntary Service, spending two years at Valley Teen Ranch in Fresno, Calif. He met his future wife, Kara, while in California, and the couple decided to move back to the Shenandoah Valley.
After initially working for a local counseling agency, Ruth heard from some friends about an opening for an admissions counselor at EMU. He began in 2009 and hasn’t looked back. He moved up to associate director of admissions three years later, and this fall—when former director Jason Good left for another position—Ruth received the call to become director.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity, and grateful,” Ruth says. “I’m excited to work with the staff here and continue to promote EMU and show students and their families what we have to offer here. We have a very, very good team.”
In his new role, Ruth will be responsible for all undergraduate recruitment activities, including the development of promotional strategies, staff training, office management, and budget administration. He also serves as a key member of EMU’s strategic enrollment management staff, working with Vice President for Enrollment Luke Hartman.
“Being the director of admissions is a perfect fit for Matt,” Hartman says. “He has a strong commitment to the values of EMU, a deep understanding of the admissions systems and processes, the ability to use data to guide decision-making, and a caring attitude toward others.”
EMU’s strategic plan calls for growing enrollment to 1,100 undergraduate students over the next five years, building the local student population and adding diversity while also connecting with the university’s important Mennonite constituency.
Ruth has already been part of an exciting period en route to those goals. This fall’s freshman class of 257 students is the largest since 1988, following up on two previous years with classes of 230-plus. That has helped put EMU’s overall enrollment at an all-time high, topping 1,800.
“The numbers speak to what EMU has going for it, and they certainly speak to how hard we work. We have a lot of momentum, and we don’t want to stagnate,” Ruth says. “It’s an exciting time to be at EMU.”