Virginia Military Institute recently appointed new staff members to two important positions: Lt. Col. Joseph Hagy has filled the position of director of admissions, and Lt. Col. Shannon Eskam is the new director of financial aid.
Lt. Col. John Young, DPS, VMI chief of staff, said of their arrival, “In the rapidly changing landscape of college enrollment, Lieutenant Colonels Eskam and Hagy will bring contemporary financial aid and admissions skills, respectively, to the Institute’s renewed enrollment management mission. We are thrilled to onboard two experienced professionals to lead mission-critical functions of the Institute.”
Hagy, who grew up in Virginia’s lower peninsula, most recently served as director of student services and chief student affairs officer overseeing admissions, recruitment, financial aid, veterans’ services, and academic advising at Mountain Gateway Community College, formerly Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, in Clifton Forge, Virginia. His previous roles at Mountain Gateway included retention coordinator and dual enrollment coordinator, and he taught student development, business management, and team leadership courses as an adjunct instructor. Hagy also served as executive director of the Mountain Gateway Community College Educational Foundation. He holds a master’s degree in executive leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg and a bachelor’s degree from Longwood University in Farmville.
As VMI admissions director, Hagy plans for strategic growth over the next five years, incorporating the help of ROTC staff, cadets responsible for recruiting and public affairs, faculty, and alumni. These individuals will be organized as “tiger teams,” a term made famous by NASA during the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission. A “tiger team” is a specialized, cross-functional work team brought together to identify and solve a specific problem. Each team will be led by members of Hagy’s department.
“VMI is filled with eager and energetic champions who recognize our enrollment challenges and want to be a part of the solution,” said Hagy. “Our admissions team is top-notch and truly believes in VMI’s mission. The entire Institute and alumni base are rallying behind the concept of enrollment management being a post-wide responsibility. The opportunity, experience, and return on investment that a VMI education provides young men and women is second to none. I am proud to be a part of such a world-class organization.”
Hagy believes the admissions process should be proactive in making connections with potential students, and VMI should maintain contact with them from the time of initial interest through matriculation. He wants to focus on the underserved and underrepresented groups: Females, minorities, first-generation college students, and those from low-income families. “Often, members of these underrepresented groups may want to attend VMI but feel obstacles are preventing them. I want to be able to remove any barriers in their way. I use the metaphor of a garden hose that is pinched, preventing the water from flowing. We need to work out those kinks,” Hagy explained.
Hagy comes from a military family. His father served 32 years in the Army Reserve and the National Guard. His grandfather was a platoon leader in the first wave of the storming of Omaha Beach during World War II and was awarded two Purple Hearts. “The values instilled in me all my life, that of service before self, is what attracts me to VMI. The mission, culture, and opportunities here are what makes it a wonderful place to work,” said Hagy.
Hagy resides in Buena Vista, has three school-aged children, and is engaged to be married. He enjoys coaching baseball and has coached for both Rockbridge County High School and Parry McCluer High School, as well as his sons’ baseball teams. “My daughter has started to play softball, so I may get to coach her, too,” he mused.
Eskam comes to VMI directly from Casper, Wyoming, where she served as the director of financial aid, deputy Title IX coordinator, enrollment services supervisor, and Veterans Affairs certifying official at Casper College. Before Casper College, she previously worked at Gillette College in Gillette, Wyoming, as the assistant director of financial aid services. She concedes that Wyoming is quite far and somewhat different from Virginia, but she and her family were ready for a change. “There is a rich history here in Virginia, and I want my children to explore the area and learn from all the opportunities it affords,” said Eskam. “Both my husband and I grew up in a town similar to Lexington, which has a wonderful family atmosphere. Everyone here has been extremely supportive and kind to me.”
Eskam plans to build relationships across post and be strategic and systematic in her work. “I want to make the financial aid process as seamless as possible. There are federal and state funds available, and we have so many fantastic donors with whom I look forward to meeting and working,” she said. She also wants to help recruit and attract more students and maintain enrollment and retention. “I want to be a good steward with the funds we receive and do well by our cadets, donors, and the entire Institute.”
Eskam earned her doctoral degree in higher education administration and a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She holds a master’s degree in organizational management from Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. She is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Wyoming Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and Association of Title IX Administrators.
Eskam and her husband reside in Lexington with their two school-aged children and two dogs. The family loves to spend time outdoors together, especially near water, where they enjoy boating and kayaking.
Marianne Hause VMI Communications & Marketing