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Rick Hesel has worked in higher education and independent schools for nearly all of his professional life. He began his career as part of a new program launched by President William G. Bowen to professionally train administrators at Princeton University, where he worked in admissions, financial aid, development and public affairs. He became a consultant to higher education in 1976. 

While his work focuses on institutional strategy, Rick’s hands-on experience covers a broad array of institutional concerns, including: strategic planning; student recruitment and financial aid; capital campaigns, annual giving and planned giving; curriculum development; student life; media, corporate and government relations; facilities planning; alumni and parent relations; and communications. He supervised the first large-scale uses of survey research and pioneered the development of a predictive model that ties tuition and aid setting to student choice. 

In higher education, he has led projects for the University of Chicago, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Claremont McKenna College, Scripps College, the University of Michigan, Colorado College, Wake Forest University, Providence College and Knox College, among others. His independent school work includes Milton Academy, Riverdale Country School, Emma Willard School and Boy’s Latin School.

In the international arena, Rick has served the University of London, Open University of the United Kingdom and under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Commission conducted workshops on marketing for presidents and other leaders of universities in the Czech Republic.

Rick conducts seminars on branding and pricing for the American Council on Education’s Fellows Program, which prepares promising faculty for senior leadership positions and is a frequent guest speaker at higher education national conferences. Publisher of studentPOLL, Rick led the creation of the national survey of student opinions on the college search process. 


  • A.B. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University