Shane Lewis hired as director of Undergraduate Admissions

Trevor Tyle, Editor-in-Chief

Four years ago, Shane Lewis was one of many college students hoping to make a difference in the world. Now, he has the opportunity to do that, right here on Oakland University’s campus.

After almost nine years at OU, Lewis has been announced as the new director of undergraduate admissions.

As a 2015 graduate of the master’s program in higher education leadership on campus, Lewis has a long history with OU. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, he worked in their admissions office for two years before making the transition to Michigan. Since then, he has moved to Clawson and worked in OU’s Undergraduate Admissions office as an admissions adviser, communications coordinator, associate director and, most recently, interim director.

“I now bleed black and gold, I’m a Golden Grizzly at heart,” Lewis said. “Just being a student, I think, helps inform my everyday work, helping to encourage more students to join Oakland.”

Lewis is a first-generation college student and found his time as an undergraduate student to be “transformative,” which influenced him to pursue a career in higher education.

“I really am passionate about the work, about what we are doing to really changes lives,” he said. “And it’s not necessarily about where you go — it’s about getting there.”

The search for a new director began in March after previous director Dawn Aubry was promoted to associate vice president for enrollment management. Lewis temporarily assumed the role before becoming Aubry’s permanent successor, which officially began on June 3, 2019.

According to Lewis, working with Aubry in her time as director made it an easier transition for him.

“One of the things that she did really well was help to keep her team involved in decision-making and helping to shape the function of the department,” he said. “Because of that, I’ve been able to be as involved as she has been with helping to shape the trajectory of the admissions office.”

One of the projects they will continue to work on together is the recently announced Golden Grizzlies Graduate program, a debt relief initiative to help students who haven’t completed — or are at risk of not completing — their degree for financial reasons.

“I think the opportunity that students are offered at Oakland is unparalleled,” Lewis said. “If they’re choosing now to come back to complete their degree, we want to make sure that we’re supporting them in doing that by any means possible.”

The decision to implement such a program at OU stemmed, in part, from the declining number of high school graduates in Michigan — which, in turn, is affecting enrollment numbers at the university level. According to MLive, the size of graduating high school classes in Michigan peaked during the 2007-2008 academic year with 123,576 students. That number is expected to fall below 99,000 this year.

Because the majority of OU students are from Michigan, Lewis said he is dedicated to maintaining and increasing enrollment on campus to combat the “demographic precipice” of declining high school graduation rates across the state, which he said will be the biggest challenge for admissions in the coming years.

“We’re realizing and we’re recognizing the importance of not only recruitment, but also retention and student success, and making sure that all of our goals for all areas are aligned so that we can be the university of choice,” he said.

Lewis is currently part of the recruitment council for a new Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) process on campus, which is intended to help him and his team develop a strategy to overcome these statistics, as outlined during the Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in Oakland’s history,” Lewis said. “I am very excited that I am going to be in a position to influence our future.”