Northeastern’s new chief enrollment officer brings data science to the art of student recruitment

Satyajit Dattagupta. Courtesy photo

Northeastern University has appointed a new chief enrollment officer to lead the university’s diverse global recruitment and enrollment efforts into a new era for higher education.

Satyajit Dattagupta will begin his tenure as chief enrollment management officer, senior vice chancellor, and special advisor to the president in mid-June, announced Ken Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for learning, on Wednesday. Dattagupta joins Northeastern from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he serves as senior vice president and dean of admissions for enrollment management and graduate and pre-college strategy.

“Satya brings to Northeastern a deep knowledge of the admissions and enrollment landscape, and a demonstrated record of data-informed, strategic leadership spanning 15 years,” Henderson wrote in an email to Northeastern faculty and staff. 

Dattagupta joins Northeastern during a period of growth and innovation at the university. More than 75,000 students applied to be part of the 2021-22 undergraduate freshman class—a record-setting figure that university officials attribute to Northeastern’s leadership in experiential learning, a strengthening global brand, and a successful reopening during the pandemic.

For the new enrollment officer, such growth represents an exciting opportunity.

“I came to this country as an international student at age of 17 from Mumbai, India, on a scholarship to study computer science,” Dattagupta says. “My career has been one in which I have always followed my passion for being in an institution that is global in nature, and that’s accessible to students who come from all walks of life, and who come from all over the world.”

Dattagupta pointed to Northeastern’s global campus network—including most recently, a campus in London and a partnership with Mills College in Oakland, California—as something of a “template” for other higher-education institutions.

“In many ways, higher ed is at an interesting introspection point,” he says. “Northeastern is a change-agent; it’s setting the template.”

Satya will work closely with university colleagues, identifying strategies and opportunities to support the university’s long-term enrollment growth, innovation agenda, and sustainability, “as well as advancing Northeastern’s continued commitment to helping students finance their education while having a successful academic experience,” Henderson wrote.

In Dattagupta’s six years at Tulane, he built the most diverse and academically strongest classes in the university’s history, Tulane officials said in an announcement. 

Dattagupta credited his use of focused, data-driven enrollment and recruitment practices with such growth—practices he’s been honing since his first brush with enrollment.

As an undergraduate student at Southwest Minnesota State University, Dattagupta began building an enrollment-management system for the institution. While he was working toward his Master of Business Administration graduate degree at SMSU, he served as a web developer and admissions technology analyst, where he caught the eye of administrators for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. For a year and a half, Dattagupta split his time between the two, helping to build out information-technology systems.

Between 2008 and 2016, Dattagupta worked at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana; University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; and Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. At each institution, he helped create recruitment, enrollment, and admissions practices that “meet students where they are,” he says.

“A big part of my success is understanding the high-school students who are applying to college. We’ve gone from a world where admissions is a black box to information overload,” Dattagupta says. “There’s a science to analyzing the data and an art to recruitment, and you can’t be a successful enrollment manager without both.”

Dattagupta will lead the strategy and execution of recruitment, enrollment, and retention for all undergraduate learners at Northeastern and a significant number of graduate programs. He will oversee departments responsible for student recruitment, pricing and financial aid, admissions, and enrollment marketing and communications. 

“When I applied to college in 2000 from Mumbai, admissions was a black box,” Dattagupta says. “There wasn’t a lot of transparency around the process: You sent in an application and got a result without knowing what happened in between. Now, students, parents, and families are changing. People have access to so much more information, and they need to know why they should invest in this education over another one. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone at Northeastern and to join at an exciting time for higher education.”

Dattagupta will succeed Sundar Kumarasamy who will build on his track-record of success at Northeastern and move to the important new role of senior vice chancellor for strategic growth. 

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