By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – Officially, Jodi Holt doesn’t start her new job as admissions director at the University of Nebraska at Kearney until Feb. 15.
But she’s already experiencing life as a Loper.
Holt and her family – husband Tim and sons Jacob, 17, and Kaden, 13 – are staying in UNK’s Village Flats residence hall as they transition from Lincoln to Kearney. They moved into the 99-unit apartment complex in early January so Jacob and Kaden could start the semester at Kearney Public Schools.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Holt, who hopes to close on a house later this month.
“That’s part of the reason why I enjoy higher education. I like being around all the students. They keep me young,” she said with a smile.
Holt has plenty of experience in higher education and the University of Nebraska system. She joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2003 as an administrative coordinator for undergraduate programs and communications in the department of computer science and engineering. For the past nine years, she served as director of recruitment for the College of Arts and Sciences, UNL’s largest college.
Following a national search, Holt was selected in December as the next admissions director at UNK.
“Jodi’s experience and approach to student recruitment aligns well with our strategic enrollment plan, and her energy and attitude will be instrumental in extending the relationships of the undergraduate admissions team,” said Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management and marketing. “She understands the higher education environment in Nebraska and beyond, and importantly, she knows how to talk to students and their families about the tremendous quality and value of the UNK experience. We’re eager to follow her leadership in increasing enrollment.”
A native of North Platte, Holt is no stranger to central and western Nebraska, a part of the state she “appreciates and values.” Her husband Tim is a Kearney High School graduate and UNK alumnus who earned a bachelor’s degree in construction management in 1997.
“I felt like the community just called to us,” said Holt, whose parents live in Colorado. “Tim has always wanted to come back to Kearney.”
Although she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice from Nebraska Wesleyan University and her master’s in educational psychology from UNL, it didn’t take long for Holt to fall in love with UNK.
She came to campus Dec. 11 for a daylong interview and immediately realized she wanted to be part of the momentum here.
“When I got on campus, I could feel the energy and the commitment of the people I met,” Holt said. “You could just tell that people love the university, they are proud of where they are and they want to continue to make things better.”
The university’s investments in programs and buildings also caught her attention. In the past seven years, UNK has opened a new Health Science Education Complex, Wellness Center and Early Childhood Education Center, renovated the Nebraskan Student Union and replaced the aging industrial arts building with Discovery Hall, a state-of-the-art STEM facility completed last fall.
Village Flats, which opened in 2018, was the first building completed at UNK’s University Village development, where a $48 million public-private housing project and indoor tennis complex are currently being built. A Regional Engagement and Alumni Center, scheduled for completion in summer 2022, is also planned there.
“This shows the commitment UNK has to grow and be great,” Holt said.
While Holt appreciates the size of UNK, which has about 6,200 undergraduate and graduate students, she knows there’s work to be done to improve awareness and access to a quality higher education experience and increase UNK’s undergraduate enrollment. She will lead a 12-person staff that focuses on recruiting, processing applications for and admitting diverse and talented new and returning undergraduates and transfer students, and supporting the leadership objectives of the Enrollment Management and Marketing division. In addition to Undergraduate Admissions, the division includes Communications and Marketing, Enrollment Technology Strategies, Academic Advising and Career Development, Military and Veterans Services and Financial Aid.
“I want to grow the institution, because growth and diversity lead to really great things,” Holt said. “There are so many students out there who don’t know they’re collegebound and I want to find those students and help them realize their potential.”