The Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges is on a hiatus and is not accepting student nominations for this school year, due to being under an organization wide “strategic review.”
Who’s Who has operated for more than 80 years, recognizing scholastic achievement in upperclassmen across the nation, including 150 Oklahoma Christian University students during the 2016-2017 school year. Although their website briefly mentions their suspension, the organization has not released an official statement explaining the reason for this break.
In an email to Stephanie Caldwell, executive assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, the organization said they will remain on suspension until they figure out their next move.
“We are writing to inform you that the executive team of Who’s Who will be conducting a strategic review of the organization,” the organization said. “During the pendency of this process, our administrative offices will be closed. As there are details or updates in the future, we will contact you directly.”
Caldwell said learning about the organization’s current state came as a shock to her.
“I can’t speculate on the hiatus,” Caldwell said. “But I was surprised myself to learn that the organization would not be accepting nominations.”
A Who’s Who nominee last year, alumna Katie Jones, said she does not understand why the organization would be secretive about shutting down.
“I’m just more confused than anything honestly,” Jones said. “I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know why they didn’t tell us. And why wouldn’t they have said something earlier? If this was happening while I was still in school and they didn’t say anything, then that would be a problem.”
According to Jones, the organization sold books with the Who’s Who winners in it to make money.
“They asked us to give them money, not like donations or anything, but if you wanted a special book, then you had to pay like $80-$100 for it,” Jones said. “It had everyone’s name in it and that was supposed to be some special little thing. I don’t think a lot of people bought it.”
Another nominee from the 2016-2017 academic year, Resident Director Garrett Andrews, said he remembers the organization trying to sell commemorative items, but he did not purchase any.
“There was an option to get stuff like a plaque or this book with your name in it, but I wasn’t particularly interested in it,” Andrews said. “I thought it was interesting that I was a nominee, but I have no idea what good those books do. There wasn’t much weight to it. The bigger weight for me was getting a degree and finishing out my college experience.”
According to Andrews, the Who’s Who organization also offered a scholarship nominees could apply for.
“It seems interesting to me that a company would offer a scholarship without the backing for it,” Andrews said. “I never did hear anything about the scholarship. The radio silence at the very least makes their reputation questionable.”
Andrews said the organization’s peculiar behavior is causing people to raise eyebrows at the group’s merit.
“I feel like for most people it was already questionable, and to have this hiatus or this ‘strategic review’ puts an even bigger question mark on all this,” Andrews said. “From what I could tell, most employers didn’t care about Who’s Who, but now they’re starting to, if they get the chance, encourage you away from putting it on your resume or cover letter or anything like that. The whole thing, it’s incredibly sketchy.”