Michael A. Drish, a seasoned university admissions professional with more than two decades of experience spanning public and private institutions, has been named executive director of undergraduate admissions at Vanderbilt University. His appointment was announced today by Douglas L. Christiansen, vice provost for university enrollment affairs and dean of admissions and financial aid. Drish will begin in the role on May 22.
Drish brings to Vanderbilt a demonstrated commitment to and deep understanding of best practices nationally and internationally in the fields of higher education, undergraduate admissions and enrollment management. He also has strong ties to the university. Drish was senior assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Vanderbilt from 2006 to 2012, and he earned his master’s in organizational leadership from Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development in 2011.
“Mike Drish has an outstanding record of accomplishment in meeting undergraduate admission and enrollment goals and achieving success in attracting and retaining high-quality, highly diverse students at multiple universities, most recently as a senior leader at UMass Amherst and at UCLA,” Christiansen said. “Mike’s deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion complements Vanderbilt’s own deeply held values in these areas, and we will call on his expertise as we navigate the admissions landscape going forward. I’m so pleased to welcome Mike back to Vanderbilt and to work with him as he leads our undergraduate admissions team.”
Drish comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he served as director of first-year admissions beginning in 2020. There he was directly responsible for strategic planning, management and daily administration of first-year student admissions. He led strategies relevant to staff development, innovative recruitment and yield efforts, data-informed analysis and reporting, and the implementation of new systems. He also directed initiatives to attract, recruit and enroll a talented and diverse student population in support of the university’s vision and goals.
Before his time at UMass Amherst he was deputy director of undergraduate admissions from 2015 to 2020 at the University of California, Los Angeles, which boasts the highest enrollment in the University of California system and is among the most applied-to universities in the United States. As a member of the leadership team, he was responsible for the development, implementation and advancement of a comprehensive admissions strategy to achieve enrollment goals.
Drish also held admissions roles at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Northeastern University and Purdue University. He is a member of numerous professional organizations and has presented at national conferences for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the College Board Forum, the International Association for College Admissions Counseling and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, among others. He earned his bachelor’s in history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2002.
“I’m incredibly excited to return to Vanderbilt and to work with its highly dedicated and driven undergraduate admissions team,” Drish said. “Vanderbilt’s well-earned reputation as a premier college destination has been on a steep upward trajectory for a number of years. I’m thrilled to be part of the team recruiting the most accomplished, talented and diverse students from around the globe to a university that offers them an academic and undergraduate residential experience that is second to none.”