P&W Profile: John Sewell

by Jules Gonsoulin

At a time when decreasing enrollment numbers continue to affect Millsaps College, students are wondering what is being done to get enrollment back on track.  A promising sign for the future of Millsaps student enrollment is the success of the Department of Communications and Marketing, led by John Sewell.  Sewell, a graduate of the college himself, expressed that the opportunity to come back to his alma mater was a prospect he could not turn down.  Furthermore,  Sewell was intrigued by the idea of working with President Robert Pearigen.  Sewell says he was “excited by his vision and strategy for Millsaps.”

In addition, Sewell enjoys the flexibility to be creative.  As head of the department, it is Sewell’s job to essentially be a “story teller,” in a particular way which encourages support from alumni and current parents.  This is done through the publication of Millsaps Magazine, as well as the constant upkeep of the Millsaps College website.  Millsaps Magazine is published twice a year, although Sewell would like to try to expand that to four times a year.  He would also like to expand the scope of who the magazine is geared towards.

As of now, it is typically meant to be read by alumni and parents.  However, in the near future, Sewell would like to see interest for the magazine take hold among current and prospective students.

Sewell is also working on an effort to streamline the Millsaps College website. He wants to make it better at serving its purpose, which is to act as a source of information for external users.  Sewell hopes to improve the first impression the website gives to potential clients, to increase interest in the college and bring application numbers up.

Sewell’s department also provides a great opportunity for students to take on internships.  Currently the department has two student interns.  Sewell says that he is looking for people who are creative, energetic and are not afraid to let their ideas out.  He explains that the communications field requires a certain level of creativity in order to communicate ideas and messages to clients, students and alumni in a meaningful way. Sewell says his department is different from others because  communications is essentially a part of everything that goes on on campus.  “Every department touches communications,” he says.  The department of communications and marketing tells the stories of athletics, academics, the arts and all other happenings on campus to external readers.  The department is unique because it brings the other departments together and synthesizes them in creative and exciting way.

When asked what prepared him the most to make this kind of difference at Millsaps College, he simply explained that his liberal arts education from Millsaps prepared him more than any other work experience he had, including his time at the University of Alabama.  The value of a liberal arts education can be seen in the way Sewell is helping the school, and drawing support from alumni.