In today’s “Five Minutes with SOURCE,” Vice President for University Marketing and Communications and Acting Vice President for Enrollment and Access Yolanda Bevill sat down to discuss her role in the Courageous Strategic Transformation plan and its impact across Colorado State University.
Among the strategic imperatives of Courageous Strategic Transformation are prioritizing our people and ensuring access to a CSU education for Colorado students. How can the plan help us deliver on our promise to provide Colorado’s students access to a world-class university education regardless of their financial situation?
Our access mission is one of the main characteristics that separates us from other institutions in the state. As a land-grant university, ensuring that all Coloradans have the opportunity to attain a degree is the very foundation on which our university has been built.
One incredible asset we have here is the Access Center, which helps prepare students in K-12 schools for higher education, regardless of whether they ultimately choose to attend CSU. Of course, we want every student to attend CSU, because we believe this is an amazing place!
But, we also want every student – regardless of financial background – to overcome any challenges and barriers they may have toward attaining a degree.
Courageous Strategic Transformation allows us to plan collaboratively with our campus partners, in alignment with our values, to look at innovative ways to ensure access, through admissions and financial aid, and also ensure that our students successfully attain a degree in their desired field and are equipped to make their mark in the world.
Why is refreshing CSU’s image through rebranding a key component of Courageous Strategic Transformation? How will Marketing and Communications guide us through that process? How is rebranding strategic? How is it courageous?
The landscape in higher education is becoming more and more competitive. Soon, the students that we traditionally could rely on to attend CSU will simply not be there. We all know that we are heading toward an enrollment cliff, not just in Colorado, but across the U.S.
We also know it’s no longer true that, “If you build it, they will come.” Now the better framing would be, “If you build it and continuously talk about it, show it on social media, have an easy-to-navigate website, create a digital advertising presence and have a consistent public relations strategy that marries your marketing efforts with your communications, you may get them to think about coming!”
The result is that we aren’t just competing for students in our state; we are competing with peer institutions, online programs, community colleges and certificate programs within industry. And of course, some of the students we are competing for tell us that they don’t currently see the value of a college education.
In this environment, to attract and retain students, we must differentiate ourselves from our peers and shout from the rooftops that we have extraordinary educators, world-class research, exciting experiential learning and top-ranked programs, all in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. We will build our brand by talking about both our assets and our challenges, even as we tackle those challenges to evolve a new model for success over time.
How do we do that? By turning over every stone to determine what those points of uniqueness are for CSU. We must promote our achievements, our faculty and our students constantly to generate consistent awareness, and the exciting story of Courageous Strategic Transformation provides a clear roadmap for how to do that.
In Courageous Strategic Transformation, we commit to having Impact in our community, across the state and around the world. What role do you see Marketing and Communications playing in helping us achieve that Impact?
I am really excited about our rebranding and marketing efforts to raise our profile in the state and across the nation, and also about our work with International Programs to elevate awareness of CSU programs globally. As we get further into the process of branding, we will be sharing our work with the campus community for feedback and input. I do not consider our rebranding efforts insular to the Marketing and Communications division. We all own our brand!
We also have the unique opportunity through the community relations component in Marketing and Communications to take our brand out into our community and demonstrate our impact through our teaching, research and engagement with those partners. Many of our students, faculty and staff live in the city, the county and beyond. CSU, Fort Collins, Larimer County and Colorado are intertwined in real and significant ways by our aspirations for our shared future.
The work that we do at CSU doesn’t just impact us, it impacts our neighbors and partners, what they think of us, how their children (and their children) will view Colorado State University, and the effects this university has had and will continue to have on generations of people.