Janessa Dunn Named Director of Admissions

From Jessica Ricker-VP for Enrollment at Skidmore College

I’m delighted to announce that Janessa Dunn, Ed.D., will join the Skidmore community on Sept. 1 as our new director of admissions. Janessa currently serves as associate dean of admissions at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, having successfully progressed in leadership roles at Vanderbilt University and Georgia Southern University over the past decade.

In her time at Wake Forest, Janessa spearheaded several significant recruitment and enrollment initiatives that have played a major role in much of its recent success. In her first year there, she led an overhaul of the application review and selection process that minimized unconscious bias across readers. She devised, trained, documented, and evaluated the efficacy of readers and operations for this new reading and selection process, including the implementation of non-academic factors that aligned with Wake Forest’s mission and values. The new system helped the admissions team navigate a 20% increase in applications while also creating an equity and mission-centered review process.

Janessa has also enhanced Wake Forest’s strategic recruitment initiatives, developing data-informed recruitment plans and training of staff to create a culture of territory management. Most recently, she has been leading efforts to strategize a new era of recruitment following the Supreme Court ruling in the Harvard and UNC cases on race-conscious admissions.

Much of Janessa’s professional energy has been devoted to diversity, access, and inclusion, and she is sought out for panels, conference presentations, and national task forces. She cares deeply about serving students and the integrity of the work we do in admissions. She also deeply values building relationships with mission-centered colleagues. At Vanderbilt she was responsible for several significant diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including its MOSAIC (Medley of Students and Ideas Connecting) program for students of color, which she transitioned to a virtual program during the pandemic. She managed over 30 student leaders, 200 student volunteers, and professional staff for MOSAIC, and increased domestic students of color by several percentage points with her team — even in a virtual format. She also managed professional staff, mentored graduate students at Vanderbilt, and played a significant leadership role in recruitment and travel strategy, as well as its pandemic-based test-optional task force.

Janessa’s roots are in the South, growing up in Alabama, where her family still lives. She majored in chemistry at Georgia Southern University, then received her M.Ed. and Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University. I know that Janessa’s academic and professional experience will be invaluable to the Admissions Office as we move forward into a new era of challenges and opportunities for the Skidmore Admissions and Financial Aid division.

I would like to thank the search team at NES, as well the members of the screening group, Beth Ann Post, Gail Cummings-Danson, Joseph Stankovich, Julia Marco, Kelli Rouse, and Liz Bracht ’24, for their attention and commitment to the search process and for collaborating effectively to achieve such an outstanding outcome.