Milyon Trulove has spent the last 10 years dedicated to higher education. He is a passionate advocate for creating meaningful college experiences for students and dedicated to the stewardship of rigorous academic scholarship.
Milyon Trulove has served as the Vice President and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at Reed College since 2014. He oversees the development and management of enrollment and operating activities for undergraduate admissions.
Trulove is a gradue of St. Olaf College where he earned a BA with majors in psychology, communications, and theatre. It was during his time at St. Olaf College that he became engaged in student government and various cultural organizations — his aptitude and passion for higher education was born. After graduation, Milyon worked with adults affected by Prader Willi Syndrome at Laura Baker School in Northfield, Minnesota.
Trulove next became the Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He furthered his own skills during this time, earning an MBA of Leadership in Student Affairs. Milyon soon moved on to become the Director of Admissions at Hamline University, excelling to the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. His expertise next led him to his current position at Reed College.
Throughout his career, Milyon Trulove has consistently helped to increase net tuition revenue and meet yearly enrollment goals while creating and maintaining diverse teams — always striving to cultivate staff representing at least 50 percent Black and people of color. He also has a thorough track record in diversifying incoming classes, an accomplishment that is particularly impressive for Reed College, which remains one of the most selective higher-ed institutions in the United States.
Milyon Trulove balances both developed and educational strategies with empathy for educational communities. He operates with a comprehensive understanding of organizational structures and management theory, garnered from years of experience. In addition, Trulove remains dedicated to identifying and curating talent, finding prospective students who know how to work hard, and creating positive work experiences in Reed College’s admissions office. He is passionate about fairness, advocating for underserved individuals who cannot do so for themselves; it’s a principle that is represented in his role as Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.
Today, Milyon continues to focus on building community and supporting diverse cultures and initiatives in higher education. He hopes that his career will lead to a legacy of positive and lasting impact with all the colleges and universities he represents.
Our Interview with Milyon Trulove
Question: What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
Milyon Trulove: I used to talk a lot, and because heads were always nodding I thought I had something to say. But how I approach conversations today looks a lot different. I now take time to pause and think between points or to reflect on someone else’s comment. I also ask a lot of questions to engage others in the interaction as well.
Question: Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Milyon Trulove: A can opener. I can pretty much hang without anything else.
Question: What is your favorite hobby and why?
Milyon Trulove: Every Saturday afternoon my father would make a run to the local Safeway in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. While he would gather ingredients to make fried catfish or hot water cornbread, I would sit on the edge of the lowest shelf in the Hallmark aisle. The greeting card aisle was also where they kept the comic books. I could get through three or four copies by the time my father was ready to checkout. My love of comics continues to this day. I’ve collected over 40 titles. My favorite universe is Marvel, but I also have titles from Image and DC as well. Standing and reading new titles in the comic book store still reminds me of my childhood to this day.
Question: What excited you the most about your industry right now?
Milyon Trulove: The required thrust into the virtual arena as a result of COVID-19. Closed campuses have reignited the realm of what is possible in this field. We realized early on that an online information session, virtual fair, and Zoom high school visit all felt like the same thing to the viewer (the student), so we had to diversify programming early. 97 percent of our families rate our programming favorably. While it’s been challenging to make the shift, the change has moved us into a much more creative branch of our profession. This is going to change the way we educate.
Question: What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Milyon Trulove: Schools are struggling, and expectations for admission officers aren’t changing much. I fear this will force our industry into a level of aggressive competitiveness that isn’t sustainable or healthy.
Question: What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Milyon Trulove: I don’t take anything for granted. The flipside of that: I don’t typically make decisions that fall into neat admission buckets. For some time, I’ve believed “innovation” was actually an attempt to copy and paste faster than the next school. True innovation tends to evade us. Yet, here are a few areas where we’ve done something new and risky: 1) We decided to go test-blind in our admission process while others opt for test-optional; 2) We moved to a fully qualitative application review process three years ago; 3) We started reaching out to recommenders and counselors as a part of reviewing application and clarifying materials five years ago; 4) We speak with hundreds of officials and teachers every year; 5) We’ve tripled the size of our middle class. All of these decisions put resources on the line, but they worked because they were right for us, and we measured twice before cutting.
Question: Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Milyon Trulove: I prioritize the items on my to-do list that other people need in order to do their work.
Question: What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Milyon Trulove: Work hard. Be sincere. Add value. Know both how and when to be succinct.
Work hard – Be industrious, understand what it takes to meet your goals, be sure you understand the main goal.
Be sincere – Admit your mistakes, give credit where it’s due, say only what you mean, show appreciation for moments, people, ideas and milestones, provide direct feedback, use your words, speak back what someone says to you before responding.
Add value – Understand your field, read professional articles about your job and management, understand why something is or isn’t working and figure out how to communicate that, speak knowledgeably to areas outside of your field, listen closely for intent, share important information succinctly.
Question: What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
Milyon Trulove: I am painfully earnest.
Question: Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Milyon Trulove: The biggest lesson was how to take a lesson. There is a version of learning from failure that is very simple: never do that particular thing again. But lessons tend to be far more nuanced than that. You need to think about why you failed and consider the conditions present in your failure. The lesson may be to never do that again under those circumstances, but it’s difficult to live in the failing moment. If you allow yourself to marinate in the lesson of the moment, you can better diagnose not only your actions but how the environment also played a role.
Question: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Milyon Trulove: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Seth Godin. Five Dysfunctions is a business parable. It lays out a framework for how teams can work together more productively. It promotes honest and candid communication and argues that an atmosphere of accountability leads to more successful teams. A friend and former supervisor of mine, Rachel, introduced me to this book. Since discovering it more than 15 years ago, I’ve made it a permanent fixture for my team and professional development.
Question: Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Milyon Trulove: Both. But I value EQ (emotional intelligence) more. Empathy, self-awareness, motivation, all the things you can’t teach. You cannot calculate the importance of the human response to being heard. People with EQ help you steer around blindspots, help make connections, and model respect in the workplace.
Question: What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Milyon Trulove: It starts with a well-rested morning with my family and ends with a movie pile on the couch.
Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Milyon Trulove: I’m most proud of building successful, happy, and productive teams. Of bringing innovative ideas to life. I’m also proud of the deep connections I’ve made with thoughtful and caring people. You might get one of those three things, and let’s be honest, you won’t get everything all the time, but when I look back, it’s gratifying to see where something special existed where there was nothing before as a result of my efforts.