Two days before the deadline for students to make
deposits if they wanted to enroll in the Class of 2019,
and Bill Hartog had more than 100 spaces to fill to
meet his goal of 465 deposits. But the vice president for
admissions and financial aid, who is retiring after 37
years with the University, stayed calm as he assembled
his final class.
At the same deadline back in his index-card days —
before modern technology changed the way student
recruitment and enrollment are accomplished —
Hartog would have been rushing back to his office after
every meeting and each lunch hour to check the mail for
deposits, and keeping a sharp eye out his office window
for the FedEx truck that, he hoped, would be bringing
“Students are doing to us what we did to them a
month ago,” Hartog laughs, meaning the deadline for
W&L to let applicants know whether or not they were
accepted. In both cases, it often comes down to the wire
before both students and school make commitments.
Today, students and parents can convey decisions
by e-mail and make deposits electronically, literally a
few minutes before the deadline. While students are
comparing colleges where they have been accepted —
and the financial aid packages they have been offered —
Hartog’s staff, as well as faculty, students and even the
president, hit the phones, send e-mails and attend yield
parties hosted by alumni around the country. It’s all
to persuade the best candidates from this year’s
accepted-student pool to enroll.
“Bill is the consummate professional,” says Steve
McAllister, treasurer and vice president for finance.
“Not once during my time at the University have I
ever had to worry about whether we would achieve
our enrollment targets or stray far from the budget.
I don’t know many other vice presidents for finance
who have that level of confidence in their admissions
vice president. That level of certainty and reliability
is often overlooked.”
In 1978, after working at his alma mater, Rollins
College, as assistant director and then director of
admissions, Hartog came to Washington and Lee
to fill what then was the top departmental position,
director of admissions. He found out quickly that
“marketing was seen as less than reputable” by the
faculty, and his plans for a marketing action plan
for the University were poorly received as he visited
departments to introduce himself.
“I remember hearing our alumnus, Tom
Wolfe, refer to Bill Hartog as ‘the magic
man’ during a Board of Trustees reception
in New York some years ago . . . It’s not really
magic, of course. I know what has really
characterized Bill’s success is a combination
of skill and hard work and his uncanny
ability to describe Washington and Lee’s
special qualities in a way that resonates
with both 18-year-olds and their parents.”
– President Ken Ruscio ’76
Bill Hartog early in his W&L career.
College admissions is somewhat of a family tradition.
Bill’s wife, Lois Conrad, is the former dean
of admissions at Tulane University, and his son
Doug Hartog ’98 is a senior associate dean
of admissions at the University of Virginia.
B.J. Conrad ’04, Brian Hartog, Edward Conrad and
five grandchildren round out the picture.