Wittenberg University President Michael L. Frandsen has announced that Carola Thorson, executive director of admission and scholarships at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, will serve as the institution’s new vice president of enrollment management. Thorson is expected to begin her new role on Sept. 24.
“In Carola, we have found a true partner in our strategic enrollment efforts,” Frandsen said. “Her deep understanding of the enrollment challenges facing private higher education, her passion for the field, and her data-driven approach to her work inspired all of us during the search process. I am confident that under her leadership, Wittenberg will experience new heights of excellence in enrollment management.”
Thorson brings more than 17 years of higher education admission experience to her new post. Since 2015, she has been an integral part of an enrollment leadership team that has strengthened and renewed Concordia’s success in reaching new markets and regaining strengths in their traditional markets. She has also played significant roles in increasing student diversity through her collaborations with College Possible, Act Six, and regional AVID and TRIO programs, and through her appointment by Concordia’s presidential cabinet to the Action Group for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Concordia’s president also appointed her as one of 11 individuals to serve on the College Council for Diversity. Additionally, Thorson partners with Concordia’s national alumni board to organize recruitment and related outreach events, and she leads marketing and branding efforts designed to engage prospective students and their families in the college's story.
Thorson began her career as an admission counselor at Concordia in 2000 before being promoted to Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions in 2002. Four years later, she joined Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she progressed over an eight-year span from graduate admissions counselor to director of undergraduate admissions. In this leadership capacity, Thorson advanced strategic planning efforts including marketing and recruitment strategies, participated in the creation of the five-year enrollment plan document for the college, and increased the first-year class from 385 in the fall of 2011 to a class of 466 in the fall of 2013.
In 2013, Thorson was named director of admissions and enrollment management at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, where she increased new incoming high school students in the fall of 2014 by nearly 10 percent, worked to leverage new technology in the recruitment process, and collaborated with several area institutions and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation to increase awareness regarding educational and career opportunities within the region for northwest Minnesota students.
A self-motivated, creative leader with a passion for empowering others to succeed, Thorson earned her B.A. in mass communication and English writing from Concordia College and her M.A in leadership from Augsburg College.
"Having spent the majority of my enrollment management career in Lutheran higher education, I am thrilled to join the Wittenberg University community," Thorson said. "President Frandsen’s thoughtful vision and collaborative nature provide great excitement and momentum at this time in the university’s history. Helping students find their vocation – their inner passion - and how that relates to what the world needs is imperative for our society today. I look forward to the good work we all will do to live out the Wittenberg mission of challenging students to lead lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity."