Lee Wilhite will depart from Biola

Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications resigns.

Lee+Wilhite+steps+down+from+his+role+as+Vice+President+of+Enrollment%2C+Marketing+and+Communications.

Melanie Kim//THE CHIMES (file)

Lee Wilhite steps down from his role as Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications.

Dalet Valles, News Editor

Lee Wilhite, vice president of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications, will leave Biola in December 2022 after being on staff for eight years.

I am writing to share today that I have decided to make a change in EMC leadership,” said President Barry Corey in a letter to staff and faculty. “After three years of enrollment challenges, I decided to ask Lee Wilhite to step down from his role as Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing and Communications, which he has graciously agreed to do. Lee will be wrapping up his time at Biola at the end of the Fall 2022 semester.”

WILHITE’S JOURNEY

Wilhite joined as the vice president of University Communications and Marketing — enrollment was added to his position in September 2018. Two years after Wilhite began leading enrollment responsibilities, COVID-19 hit, which brought along many challenges. Part of the challenge was in-person visits for prospective students, which introduced virtual tours. During this time, the EMC team brought along many other changes to achieve their needed reach. 

“This team is so sold out on Biola,” Wilhite said. “They care so much about this school and its students. They just, every day, come in and give their very best. We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve also achieved a lot.”

Biola is a close place to him and his family. His daughter graduated from Biola and now works for the Office of the Registrar, and his two other children now attend Biola. Following his departure, his family will still remain part of the Biola community. 

“I am a Biola dad so I see the impact of the Biola experience on our kids’ education and I am just thrilled with what they are sharing with us about their experience inside the classroom and outside the classroom,” Wilhite said. “I have seen them grow and mature and find community and connections. It’s so meaningful to me as a dad.”

Wilhite is set to finish the fall semester in hopes of achieving recruitment goals. Currently, the EMC team is focusing on the Fall Commencement. After Wilhite concludes his time at Biola, he will prepare for his next steps.

“God opens doors and He closes doors, and He’s closed this door,” he said. “You can’t have a new big beginning until you’ve reached an ending to something. Now, I look forward with anticipation to where my next assignment is going to be. It might be in Christian higher education, it might not.”

ENROLLMENT CONCERNS

According to Wilhite, enrollment numbers grew 5% year-over-year from the start of EMC until COVID affected colleges all around the country, resulting in enrollment challenges that propelled Biola to change leadership.

“As a result of some enrollment challenges, Dr. Corey made a very difficult and prayerful decision that we should move in a different direction,” said Michael Pierce, Executive Vice President, University Operations and Finance. 

Wilhite has years of experience in marketing and communications. He received a certificate of leadership and enrollment management in 2019, just months before the pandemic presented challenges to him and the EMC team. Enrollment challenges were the given reason why Corey asked Wilhite to step down from his position. 

SEARCH FOR SUCCESSOR

During this transition, Pierce will search for Wilhite’s successor. Pierce will also serve as the interim vice president of EMC starting Oct. 24 until a new person is brought into the role. Pierce and Wilhite will co-lead the team until Wilhite’s departure. 

Biola is searching for a person who believes in the mission of Biola — the advancement of Christian higher education and biblical truths and learning. The new vice president will lead an estimated 125 professional and student workers to advertise Biola. The university is searching for someone who will address the enrollment needs of Biola in hopes that there will be improvement and achievement. 

“First and foremost we will be looking for someone who believes in Christian higher education and specifically in the integration of biblical truth and coursework as we seek to make a premier education attainable for families from all backgrounds,” Pierce said. 

Wilhite’s time at Biola will come to a close when the Fall 2022 semester ends. Though he will no longer be at this university, he has high hopes for Biola.

“Biola is a blessing,” he said. “It’s been a blessing to me, it’s been a blessing to my family. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything. I wish it all the best and I do hope that everything we have built here provides a solid foundation for the next leader to come in and take it to a whole other level. I am hopeful and praying that God will take this university into a place it has never been before.” 

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