Hidden Figures: Ken Anselment

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Ken Anselment.
Photo by Taylor Blackson.

This week’s hidden figure is someone who is hidden away in the admissions office but makes an appearance in the beginning and the end of our time at Lawrence. When I walked into his office with my trusty photographer, he was burning sweet orange incense.

I could not help but notice the family photos displayed on his desk. On the wall was a huge old-school poster of Superman. Behind the desk was Ken Anselment, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Anselment has been working at Lawrence since September 2004. He graduated from Marquette University with a degree in English and British literature. Anselment is responsible for leading the Admissions Office, Financial Aid and Communication Team.

His job is a combination of recruiting, managing and raising our institution’s visibility in the market place for perspective students, alumni, and friends – people who are thinking about college.

“The big goal is making sure we are recruiting students that match Lawrence University and take advantage of all the opportunities to graduate and thrive to become great Lawrence alumni. I am also the chief cheerleader for the institution, although I might have to wrestle Mark Burstein for that role,” Anselment joked.

When I asked if Anselment had any jobs prior to Lawrence, he said, “No. I was born to do this job. I’m only fifteen years old, you know.” Before his current job, he had been in admissions at Marquette University for 12 years. He also taught English Composition as a graduate student.

Before that, he was briefly a development officer. “In the dark, dark part of my past, I sold life insurance for two weeks, and it was an internship where I realized that this is not what I want to do for the rest of my life,” added Anselment.

Anselment describes “The Lawrence Difference” as the community of students and faculty. He wrote a story in the Post Crescent on Monday about the snow storm that occurred during the last open house, when 100 students from all over the world were invited to come visit campus. The campus pulled together and held a pizza party catered by Bon Appétit at President Mark Burstein’s house for the 60 students who were able to attend.

Even though classes were cancelled, faculty members volunteered to have mock classes and presentations for the guests. Anselment recalled how senior Sam Bader, the Fiddlers of Lawrence University and even Burstein’s mom trudged through the snow to welcome the guests into the community.

Outside of Lawrence, Anselment’s hobby is being a dad. He has a daughter who is a sophomore in high school and a son who is a senior in high school, beginning to look at colleges. He now sees the parent side of his job in making sure his children receive higher education. Cycling with friends is a big part of his life.

He has a soft spot in his heart for Superman ever since he was a kid. He likes to think his new haircut looks like Superman’s on the days he wants to feel super. He also makes chili that will “change your life.”

When asked about the most important lesson he has learned from his job, Anselment looked to the sky for an answer. Journalist Dana Kennedy once told him, “You can take full credit and responsibility for all the work you have done and celebrate it, but you can’t take responsibility for the result.”

For example, the admissions team recently celebrated not the number of admitted students this year but how much work they had done, and that is what is most important.

He is most inspired by “the student we took a risk on, but we knew that student had the raw matter to succeed at Lawrence and to see them graduate. Students go above and beyond what we hope they do.” Anselment added, “I can see so many of these people in my memory. It’s everything you hope for in this kind of work.”

Anselment is the reason why many of us are here at Lawrence. He and the admissions team were the first to realize our full potentail, and they sought to help us find it for ourselves. It is important to realize why we choose to be at Lawrence and continue to come back as alumni.