First Class

Posted by cservaes on September 17, 2012 in "Academic Programs", Alumni, Indiana, "Your OU" In 2002, Josh Richards had just finished a degree from Indiana University. With enough credits to graduate but not enough for a specialized major, he graduated with a degree in General Studies so he could “just get done.” He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Coincidentally, OU-Indiana had just opened its doors and was actively seeking new students. Josh heard an ad for Ottawa University on the radio and looked up the university online. Before he knew it, he was enrolled as one of the campus’s first three students. One thing Richards had really enjoyed at Indiana University was an internship in human resources he had done in a local factory. When he discovered that OU offered a degree in human resources, he knew it was right for him. Two years later, he was in OU-Indiana’s first graduating class along with the two students with whom he enrolled. “I never thought I would be in the top three of my class,” Richards joked. But his experience at OU was no joke to Richards. “OU shaped me,” he said. “When I started at OU, the faculty and staff set me on an education and career path. The family feel of the campus, the faith-based education, and the encouragement and guidance I got at OU influenced how I do my job today.” Immediately following graduation, Richards became a student services associate at OUIndiana while he continued his education across the street at Webster University, where he earned his Master of Arts in Management and Leadership. That’s when Richards moved to the Kansas City area as assistant director of admissions and financial aid at St. Luke’s College of Health Sciences. Now, as director of enrollment management and human resources, he spends approximately 70 percent of his time on enrollment efforts and 30 percent on human resources. During his tenure, Richards has helped grow the school’s BSN program from 55 to 196 students; coordinated enrollment initiatives surrounding new programs, including an RN to BSN, and an MSN; facilitated the move to their current facility; and assisted with two HLC accreditations. He also developed an ambassador program of 8-10 students to assist with enrollment efforts. The school’s goal is to have 500 students enrolled in multiple disciplines by 2016. Richards is responsible for all hiring associated with the college and for overseeing all human resource related tasks. He admits, however, that his passion is on the student enrollment side because he knows the students are going into one of the most important helping industries in the world. And, he adds with a smile, “They could be taking care of me one day, so it’s important to treat them right.” With retention rates at 90%+ and an average student GPA of 3.6, it’s clear he’s doing exactly that. Richards isn’t all about work, however. He and his wife Emily, a pharmacist, have a 14-month-old daughter named Stella, who keeps them both very busy. He also enjoys competing in bass fishing tournaments in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. In the past, Richards has been involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. For those who aren’t sure if going back to school is doable, Richards has this advice: “Go talk to someone at OU – take that first step; enroll in that first class. Once you establish a routine, the credits start adding up and the reward is priceless.”