hero image
Jefferson Blackburn-Smith - Otterbein University. Westerville, OH, US

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith Jefferson Blackburn-Smith

Vice President for Enrollment Management | Otterbein University

Westerville, OH, UNITED STATES

Jefferson Blackburn-Smith is an expert in financial aid, scholarships, college admissions, and politics and higher education.




Jefferson Blackburn-Smith assumed his position as vice president of enrollment management on March 1, 2012. He came to Otterbein from The Ohio State University, where he was the senior associate director of undergraduate admission and first year experience for seven years.

Blackburn-Smith joined the Office of Undergraduate Admission and First Year Experience at OSU in 1995, serving as assistant director of telecounseling and associate director before becoming senior associate director in 2004. Between 2004 and 2011, Blackburn-Smith developed and implemented long-term and annual strategic undergraduate recruitment plans that achieved a 74 percent increase in applications, 32 percent increase in enrollment of students of color, 8.6 percent increase in non-resident enrollment, and 3.8 percent increase in international student enrollment. During this time under his leadership OSU also saw a 4.8 percent increase in first year student retention, as well an increase in the academic profile of incoming classes.

Blackburn-Smith was previously vice president of marketing for The Hayward Company and general sales manager for International Readers Service Bureau, Inc. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from OSU. He is the author of three novels.

Areas of Expertise (15)

Higher Education Retention

Enrollment Management

Higher Education Access

University Admissions

College Admissions

Student Debt


Financial Aid

Politics and Higher Education

College Access

College Affordability

College Admission Preparation

Higher Education Access for Underrepresented Communities

Higher Education Enrollment Issues

Higher Education Policy

Education (2)

Ohio State University: B.A., English

Ohio State University: M.A., English

Languages (1)

  • English

Selected Media Appearances (14)

Scholarships, other programs boost Otterbein’s incoming class numbers, diversity

The Columbus Dispatch  print


Otterbein University’s incoming class has grown by 22% over last year, and that’s no accident, school officials say. The private Westerville university welcomed an incoming class of 720 students to campus as classes began last week. The last time that Otterbein had a class that size was 2016, said Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, Otterbein’s vice president for enrollment management. Last year’s incoming class had about 590 students.

view more

Nearly 30 Ohio colleges are still accepting applications for fall 2019

Akron Beacon Journal  online


Blackburn-Smith is interviewed about extended college application deadlines

view more

Changes announced for SATs, students will now be assigned an 'adversity score'



A big change on the way for SATs on the heels of that college admission scandal. The College Board will start assigning an 'Adversity Score' to students taking the test.

view more

College Enrollment Declining

Spectrum News 1  tv


"They show significant downturns really across the nation, but very specifically in the Midwest, in the Northeast, along the East Coast, even in the South," said Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice-president of enrollment at Otterbein University.

view more

Franklin University cuts its undergraduate tuition rate by 24%

The Columbus Dispatch  print


Otterbein University unveiled a new scholarship program in October 2018 that covers any remaining tuition costs for students from low- and moderate-income Ohio homes after other federal and state aid has been applied.

view more

Otterbein University programs attract and support low-income students

The Columbus Dispatch  print


Otterbein University has found a simple formula for more success with first-generation college students: Offer more financial aid, and they’ll come; give them extra support, and they’ll stay.

view more

Higher Education: Student Scarcity

Columbus CEO  online


At Otterbein University, differentiating from Ohio State and other big campuses is imperative. “One of our strategies is understanding how we serve underserved kids and building the right financial aid models for them to be successful,” says Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management. It’s called 360-degree support. [...]

view more

Out-of-State Enrollment Rises at State Flagship Universities

US News  online


Schools enroll more nonresidents to increase their academic profile and national reputation while generating additional revenue, says Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president of enrollment at Otterbein University, who worked previously as an enrollment officer at Ohio State University—Columbus. [...]

view more

Otterbein and Columbus State offer new degree program



Otterbein University and Columbus State Community Colleges (CSCC) announced a new partnership that will allow central Ohio students to earn both an associate degree and bachelor's degree in four years for less than most of Ohio's public four-year universities.

view more

Calls for diversity after Otterbein student reports incident of racial hate

10 TV  online


"I think they are very legitimate issues that a community like ours, a learning community, should be talking about,” Otterbein Vice President of Enrollment Management Jefferson Blackburn-Smith said. [...]

view more

Is It Possible To Negotiate Your College Tuition?

10 TV  online


"My greatest concern is some of the families that most need additional help, don't know," Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Otterbein University in Westerville, said. [...]

view more

Admissions: The Challenges of Connecting With Students

The Huffington Post  online


Colleges and universities do struggle with making the decision to text students. Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, noted that his office has begun sending out short text messages in special circumstances. [...]

view more

3 Ways Students Can Incorporate Technology in College Visits

U.S. News & World Report  print


"Technology can enhance the college search process and a visit, but it isn't a replacement for being personal and getting to know the students," Jefferson Blackburn-Smith, vice president for enrollment management at Otterbein University, said via E-mail.

view more

Search The Choice SEARCH University Sends ‘Fear of God’ Letter to Students With Senioritis

The New York Times  online


“I can tell you that as we review final high school transcripts (and our admissions counselors read all of them), any student who either failed a class their final semester or fell below a 2.0 G.P.A. is sent on to me for follow-up,” Jefferson R. Blackburn-Smith, the vice president for enrollment management at Otterbein University, wrote in an e-mail.

“We do not automatically rescind the admission decision because of a poor senior year,” Mr. Blackburn-Smith said, “but we do want the student to know that we are concerned and will be watching their performance.”

view more

Selected Event Appearances (1)

Leadership in a Time of Disruption

Ross Leadership Hour  The Point, Westerville, OH


Selected Articles (1)

Managing Student Employees in a Recruitment Setting. College and University

Blackburn-Smith, Jefferson; Lembo, Laura


A discussion of student-employee management in the college admissions office looks at the philosophy underlying student use in this function, employee recruitment and hiring practices, training and compensation, monitoring of student-employee performance, and the personal and professional rewards of working with student employees in this context. (MSE)

view more