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Decades of Dedication

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Cathy McDonald Davenport ’87 retires after impressive 30-year career in enrollment 

In August, Cathy McDonald Davenport ’87, who has helped to shape Dickinson and Dickinsonians through her more than 30-year tenure in enrollment, announced her retirement.

Davenport graduated from Dickinson with a degree in psychology in 1987. She immediately began her career as an admissions counselor and shortly afterward was promoted to assistant director of admissions, covering Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island. She took a brief hiatus from 1990 to September 1992 to earn a master’s in education and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania secondary school counseling certification from the University of Pennsylvania.

In September 1992, she returned to Dickinson and has served her alma mater with dedication ever since, including as dean of admissions and most recently as vice president for enrollment management.

Her career includes many highlights:

  • Enrolling the largest first-year class in the college’s history in 2014, and more recently, attracting the largest applicant pools the college has ever had.
  • Leading her team in the pivot to virtual recruiting in 2020, which led to successful classes.
  • Collaborating with various organizations to recruit specialized cohorts, including Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Posse, Philadelphia Futures (now Heights) and the Blue Mountain Battalion (ROTC).
  • Initiating affordability initiatives, including the Sandia Scholarship opportunity for students in Arizona and New Mexico and the successful Presidential Scholarship program, which provides top students with funding toward their education as well as special programming with Dickinson’s president.
  • Growing the Counselor Advisory Board, which brings together a diverse group of counselors from secondary schools across the country to provide guidance and insight from their work with college-bound students.

Davenport also developed a talented enrollment team of hardworking and dedicated people, and she championed a welcoming and personal approach to each student and family going through the process.

“Though Cathy filled one of the toughest roles at the college, and indeed perhaps the hardest job in higher education at the moment, she remained energized even at the most stressful times,” said President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, in his announcement to the campus community. “With a perpetually positive attitude, Cathy led the enrollment team in an increasingly competitive market. She is, by far, the hardest worker I have ever known. Her dedication to our college is manifest and immeasurable.”

To honor and celebrate Cathy, please consider supporting the Campaign for Scholarships by making a gift and choosing “Scholarships” in the gift designation field. 

Read more from the fall 2023 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

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Published November 21, 2023