The Erdmann Institute

The Erdmann Institute serves to expand the traditional concept of enrollment management by bringing together independent school admission professionals and colleagues to examine ways to strengthen enrollment and enhance the overall promotion of their schools. Founded on the principals of inclusivity and collaboration, The Erdmann Institute seeks to grow the field of admission by providing a non-competitive and supportive environment focused on problem solving and strategic planning. 

The Erdmann Audit


What is an Erdmann Audit?

The work of independent school admission offices is complex and demanding. Whether the team is large or small, the quality of the performance depends on having the right parts in the right places, and working in the right ways. Often operating in insular environments, it is critical for enrollment management professionals to look beyond their schools to understand the broader context for their work. The Erdmann Audit team is designed to aid in this process by partnering with schools to lend a critical eye to examine best practice, optimize processes and productivity, and explore opportunities for growth in key areas.

What is the scope of the work?

In consultation with the Head of School, the Director of Admission, and any member of the school community designated by the Head of School, Erdmann staff will provide a written list of suggested admission/enrollment strategy changes and enhancements, and an outline of a strategic enrollment plan. Depending upon the goals outlined by the Head of School and the Director of Admission, the plan can provide suggestions and advice on defining institutional enrollment priorities, sustainability, data-driven enrollment planning, community partnerships/outreach and travel, admission office structure and staffing, efficiencies in the admission process and procedure, financial aid strategy, and other admission related needs. Resources related to discussions will be supplied.

What is the process and timeline for an Erdmann Audit?

1. A school will be asked to complete a Pre-Visit Questionnaire, and to send Erdmann staff any current data, demographic studies, and all admission publications that would be helpful for the discussions related to the outlined goals. This must be sent at least 10 days prior to the scheduled campus visit.

2. On-campus work: Erdmann staff will spend 2 days on campus, which will include meeting with the Head of School, Director of Admission, and any other community members deemed necessary by the Head of School. Additional consulting services may be requested to continue beyond the dates outlined and those would be reviewed by both parties for an updated and possible revision of scope, timeline, and fees.

3. Erdmann staff will have a final meeting with the Head of School where they will present the results of their work, including a written list of suggested changes and enhancements to the current admission system and an outline of a strategic enrollment plan.

4. Erdmann staff will make themselves available to the Head of School and Director of Admission for follow up work and questions via email or telephone, up to 10 hours, for the month following the visit for clarification of the plan, including but not limited to overall strategy, enrollment management planning, community partnerships, internal and external outreach, admission office structure, staffing/hiring, office efficiencies and/or financial aid strategy.

What is the cost and schedule of an audit?

An Erdmann Audit costs approximately $5,900 plus expenses for the complete work of two consultants. The following items are included in that estimate:

  1. Pre-Visit Preparation: 4 hours

    1. Review demographics, admission material, data, and questionnaire responses

  2. Site Visit

    1. Arrival the evening before for an introductory meeting with Head of School and any others desired

    2. Two days on campus (approximately 6 hours each day)

    3. Final meeting with Head of School (and any others desired) to review recommendations and outline of strategic enrollment plan

  3. Follow Up: 10 hours

    1. Email/telephone follow up with Head of School and/or Director of Admission within the month following the visit

What is the inspiration for Erdmann Audit?

Dave Erdmann was notorious for having a saying that somehow seemed to fit every situation. All that worked with him, or knew him well, would agree that when presenting Dave with a problem or concern, the response almost always included one of his bits of wisdom. 

"What you see depends on where you sit."
"Own your morning." 
"It may not be your fault, but it's your problem."
"Don't let them see how you made the sausage."
"It's not a mistake until it goes out the door."
"Don't run for the hose."

Outside of his work at the annual summer institute, Dave used to also spend a fair amount of time consulting with admission offices across the country. His purpose was to help schools better understand the changing landscape and evolving competition, as well as how to leverage the most value out of the enrollment work they are doing. Although Dave is gone, his work continues on with the Erdmann Institute and the Erdmann Audit. 

Erdmann Audit - Contact Form

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Erdmann Audit Staff

Pamela McKenna

Pamela McKenna is an education enrollment professional who has spent more than 25 years working in various segments of education including higher education and elementary and secondary schools at both single-sex and co-educational institutions.

Pam began her professional career as an attorney and then moved into the corporate world as a managing editor at a legal publishing firm. Feeling a pull toward education, she moved on to become the Director of Admission at New York Law for six years before moving into the independent school arena. She was the Director of Admission and Financial Aid at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut, an all-girls, pre-school-12 grade independent school, for 9 years before moving to her current position as Director of Admission at Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut, a co-educational institution serving grades 7-12, where she has been for 10 years.

Pam is currently serving as President of the Fairchester Admission Director’s group, a consortium of more than 40 independent schools in Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York and is a past member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Committee on School Advancement. In addition, she serves on the Erdmann Advisory Council for the Erdmann Institute for Enrollment Leadership. Pam received her bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University (NC) and her Juris Doctor degree from Washington University School of Law (MO).

Carinne Barker 

Carinne Barker has over 30 years of experience working in a variety of educational institutions, ranging in grades from preschool to higher education. Originally from New York, Carinne began her career in education working in admission for David Erdmann at Rollins College (FL), her alma mater.

After moving to California, Carinne shifted her focus to the independent school world and worked for 25 years at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, California, a K-12 independent school, where she served as Director of Admission and Financial Aid. Stepping away from the school-world for a few years, Carinne served as Senior Director of Professional Development for The Enrollment Management Association (formerly SSATB), and was responsible for planning, development, and implementation of professional development programs that train and support enrollment managers in independent schools. Returning to schools, Carinne now serves as the Director of Enrollment at St. Matthew’s School in Pacific Palisades, California, a co-ed Preschool-Grade 8 independent school.

Carinne currently serves on NAIS’s Financial Aid Advisory Task Force, the Erdmann Advisory Council for the Erdmann Institute for Enrollment Leadership, as well as on the Program Committee of A Better Chance. She has chaired several regional associations, including the Los Angeles Consortium of Secondary School Admission Directors, and the Financial Aid Administrators’ Association of Southern California (fa3). Carinne received her undergraduate degree from Rollins, and earned a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from California State University, Northridge. 

Tommy Adams

Thomas “Tommy” Adams is Head of School Grosse Pointe Academy, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a Pre-school through grade 8 co-educational independent school, and Director of The Erdmann Institute for Enrollment Leadership. Tommy worked in independent school admission for 23 years before becoming a Head of School. Prior to becoming a Head of School, Tommy was Assistant Head of School for Enrollment at Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA for eight years and Director of Admission at The Gunnery, Washington, CT for eight years before that.

Passionate about his work with admission professionals, he has been a regular presenter at national conferences, such as TABS, The Enrollment Management Association, and IECA. Additionally, he has served on multiple independent school-related committees including the ASSIST School Retention Task Force and the TABS Convention Planning Committee. A graduate of Avon Old Farms (CT), Tommy received his bachelor's degree from Roanoke College (VA) as well as a master's of science in Education with a focus on Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tommy was recognized for his professional accomplishments by being awarded The Enrollment Management Association William B. Bretnall Award in 2015, For Exemplary Contribution to the Field of Independent School Admission.

Peter Gilbert

Peter is a 30-year veteran of boarding schools with 25 years of experience in middle and secondary school admissions work. For his first ten years, Peter worked in coed schools, both boarding and day: The Rectory School (CT, grades 5-9), Collegiate School (VA, grades K-12) and Tilton School (NH, grades 9-12, PG). Peter has been on the Hilltop since 1998.

For most of Peter’s time at Salisbury, he has filled the role of Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, traveling extensively in the United States and abroad promoting the Salisbury experience.

Peter is active with various professional admissions leadership positions including the Admissions Leadership Council, Character Skills Snapshot G32, North American Boarding Initiative Advisory Council and the Erdmann Council. He also presents often on various admissions related topics at NAIS, TABS, SSATB, and IECA conferences.  Peter's talks have been published in the Moffly Media Independent School Guide 2013, The Art of Admissions to Educate the Whole Child, The Yield Magazine, SSATB, Spring 2015 SAO Report, 3d Lacrosse Prep Showcase and our own  Salisbury School Magazine.

Peter has been recognized for his professional accomplishments by being named The Enrollment Management Association William B. Bretnall Award recipient in 2016, For Exemplary Contribution to the Field of Independent School Admission.

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