Washington College Marketing Task Force by mikesanye


									Washington College
Marketing Task Force

Final report of the committee’s recommendations

Submitted to President Baird Tipson

March 1, 2005

Defining the Washington College brand…………………………5
Our George Washington inheritance……………………………..8
Our location as a competitive advantage………………………...12
Educating effective communicators.…………………………….15
The Centers of Excellence and their marketing role…………….17
Defining and marketing to our constituents……………………..21
Building our marketing capacity………………………………...25
Enhancing the marketing experience for campus visitors……….29
Improving our position in admissions guides..…………………..33
The faculty‘s contribution to marketing.………………………...38
The role of athletics in marketing………………………………..40
The logo and logo product merchandize………………………...43
The role of research and measurement...………………………...45
Task force membership………………………………………….49

In convening a marketing task force to analyze Washington College's image and
reputation among key constituencies and influencer sources, President Baird Tipson
challenged us to identify and recommend both strategic and tactical initiatives that
would support the College's ambition to be recognized regionally and nationally as a
college of increasing distinction and eminence and as one that ranks among the nation's
finest liberal arts institutions. This document represents our response to that challenge.

Our review of the limited institutional research available, combined with our personal
and professional experiences as educators, marketers and communicators, leads our
Marketing Task Force to conclude that Washington College possesses a level of
institutional awareness that is too low and a marketing capacity too inadequate to help the
College achieve its ambition to be recognized as one of the truly significant national
liberal arts colleges.
In our judgment, this is due to two factors:
      The College lacks a consistent, concentrated, organized, and funded marketing
       program designed to generate awareness, interest and preference among the
       College‘s target markets
      The College has failed to develop and communicate a distinctive brand image and
       reputation that would distinguish us from hundreds of similar liberal arts colleges.
As a result, despite its considerable merits, Washington College possesses a public image
that is more diffuse and less differentiated than many colleges with whom we compete or
seek to compete. Too few in our target audiences have a complete understanding of the
institution or its potential, and even fewer, perhaps, understand why the College should
be esteemed as holding a place of distinction in American higher education.
Regrettably, the problem is longstanding. The Kent News editorialized that ―the College
is situated on a commanding and beautiful eminence…and enjoys all the facilities for
imparting a thorough and finished education. If its advantages were fully and extensively
made known to the public, it could not fail to enjoy a much larger measure of prosper ity.‖
While the words ring true, it is sobering to note the date of this editorial: June 14, 1862.
Mindful of a problem that has not been solved nearly a century and a half later, it is
understandable that our task force approached its work with such urge ncy.
In the pages that follow, we have cataloged our ideas on how marketing can help
Washington College secure that distinction and achieve the eminence that President
Tipson wishes for us. The task force‘s work was inspired by our shared optimism for
Washington College and guided by pragmatism, though we admit that at times our
enthusiasm may have led us to ideas that are highly ambitious. The volume of ideas
presented is large, too, and the task force recognizes that not all of what we suggest will
or can be implemented. We have chosen not to limit our thinking, however, because we

wish this document to serve as wellspring of ideas from which the College might return
again and again in the years ahead.
Much of what we suggest will entail new or reallocated investments, so our report should
be evaluated concurrent with the College‘s strategic planning process. Some of what we
recommend, however, involves activities we already fund or staff positions for which we
already budget. Among the task force‘s many marketing recommendations, some
constitute priorities more immediate than others. To focus your attention on these
priorities, we have concluded each section of this report with our assessment of which
recommendations are most critical for the College to add ress, either because they
represent the most significant marketing opportunities or are prerequisites to achieving
other goals of this plan. At the conclusion of each section we also have identified which
recommendations have significant cost implications, although we have chosen not to
attempt to specify those costs, a task we determined was better left to the College‘s
financial staff.

Defining the Washington College brand

Four years ago, the College convened a ―messaging summit‖ among its various
constituencies — administrative staff, students, faculty, trustees, alumni, donors and
friends — to define what attributes contribute the most to the character, distinctiveness
and appeal of Washington College. Through the professionally facilitated process,
participants explored and debated what made Washington College better, different or
unique in comparison to its competitors. At the conclusion of the process, participants
reached a strong consensus that the core being of the College is reflected in the fo llowing
three characteristics:

      Washington College is capable of offering an intensely personalized education.
       Our focus is on the individual. Classes are small. Self-discovery and reflection are
       encouraged. Active, engaged learning is emphasized. Connections among
       students and their professors are many. Genuine attention is paid to each student‘s
       individual talents, needs and goals.

      George Washington, the enduring values he represents, and his lessons of
       leadership are the College‘s inheritance. In modern times, the College has been
       inconsistent and somewhat ambivalent in coming to embrace its historic
       connection to George Washington. Nonetheless, this connection is real, though
       not fully realized, and potentially advantageous, but only if the College chooses to
       make it so.

      The experience of a Washington College education is inextricably linked to our
       setting in historic Chestertown, on the Chester River and the Chesapeake, amid
       the natural beauty and environment of the Eastern Shore. While the College‘s
       location offers both advantages and disadvantages — our rural isolation, for
       example, is seen as a disadvantage by some — the potential marketing power
       inherent in our location holds the promise of creating a college experience that is
       distinctive and differentiating among our competitors.

The most recent research we have suggests that students and their parents are attracted to
Washington College because of our ability to nurture students individually and
holistically, helping guide them in the development of critical thinking and social skills,
while helping them acquire vital career and life skills as well. While many other colleges,
especially liberal arts colleges, can and do claim the same, Washington College at its best
fulfills this mission with particular distinction and accomplishment.

The heritage of George Washington is a potentially priceless asset, offering us a larger-
than-life personage whose power and prestige can be applied to dramatize and personify
the College‘s identity and values. He, perhaps more than any other American, stands for
character, service and leadership. While other colleges and universities also bear his
name, our claim to his legacy can be made primary.
Chestertown, the Chesapeake and the Eastern Shore provide a significant point of
difference for Washington College. While to some potential applicants our setting may
appear more a disadvantage than advantage, in the end we cannot hide from the fact, and
we believe that with effective marketing the positives of our locatio n can be made
compelling — the charm of colonial Chestertown, the beauty of the Chesapeake
environment and its tidal waters, the recreational opportunities that few other colleges
can offer, such as sailing, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, cycling, gunning and
more. What might St. Mary‘s College be willing to offer to be located in a charming,
historic town instead of a cornfield? What might Goucher, Dickinson and Franklin &
Marshall be willing to trade to have a river and a bay at their front doors?
While our marketing task force confirmed and embraced the conclusions of the earlier
messaging summit, many of us were intrigued with two additional marketing concepts as
well. We should emphasize that while the following ideas are intriguing, even promising,
they are not as certain and solid as the three institutional attributes we have just detailed.
These ideas fall into the realm of possibilities and the ultimate decision to proceed with
them is beyond the responsibility of this task force.

      Student leadership development and training may serve as an additional way of
       setting the College apart, especially since it is something the College already does
       well and possesses an eagerness to do even better. The idea relates directly to our
       George Washington heritage and to our National Honor Society scholars program,
       and is being pursued by others at the College (Student Affairs and the Business
       faculty, for example) independent of our marketing task force. We believe that
       leadership development could add an important additional dimension to the
       branding of the College, but only if the program were to be developed more fully
       and made a more universal experience among our students. For this reason, we
       have chosen not to define leadership development as a true and distinct brand
       marker, but instead to incorporate it into our George Washington branding, where
       we feel it adds even greater depth to an already strong brand proposition.
      The cultivation of clarity, eloquence and persuasiveness in written and spoken
       expression is another potential marker of a Washington College education. While
       this promise is not yet fully realized for all students, the College has achieved
       significant recognition for its accomplishments in this area through the Sophie
       Kerr Prize and the Creative Writing program. What is missing is an institutional
       commitment to 1) make skilled written expression a talent developed by all
       students, and 2) help all students acquire strong speaking and presentation skills.
       The potential value of a marketing position that emphasizes writing and rhetoric is
       validated by the 2001 Art & Science research survey of our prospective

       applicants, who expressed a strong interest in attending a college that promised to
       help them learn to write and speak more effectively.

Defining and promoting our brand successfully requires us to focus on a few key aspects
of what a Washington College education accomplishes. In the committee‘s judgment,
these five brand markers, in whole or in part, could serve as enduring pillars upon which
to build a strong and appealing brand. Each brand marker expresses an institutional truth,
or at least a possible institutional truth, yet each could benefit from further development.
In the pages that follow, we suggest how these five brand markers could be developed,
and we explore additional initiative areas that the College should undertake in our quest
for a brand that ranks among the most vibrant and well defined of any American college.

Priority decisions:
      Are we institutionally willing to commit to a defined set of brand attributes, and if
       so, which ones?
      Are we willing to be guided by these attributes in making operational decisions
       and in strategic planning?

Major new cost implications:
      Maintaining (or reducing) the current student faculty ratio that makes a
       personalized education possible, and maintaining or improving other services
       (student affairs, advising, etc.) that are also essential
      The costs implications for developing other brand attributes are addressed in the
       sections that follow

Our George Washington inheritance

As a college community we often exhibit ambivalence about ownership of our George
Washington heritage. While we tout the significance of his gift of 50 guineas and
celebrate at the George Washington Birthday Ball, we do little else to imprint him upon
the College, and more important, upon the college experience of our students. The
challenge and opportunity we set for the College is to make George Washington our own,
even among other prominent institutions that bear his name, and to make his connection
truly meaningful to the educational experience of our students. We must identify those
values represented in George Washington that we wish to inculcate in our students. There
is potential power in relating George Washington‘s personal path of growth and
transformation to what we want our students to experience in their college education. If
we are to be serious about maximizing the power of our George Washington connection,
he must become a part of our DNA, not just our name and logo.

The student leadership development program that has developed within the College in
recent years was cited by a number of task force members as an opportunity to connect
the College more fully with George Washington and the enduring leaders hip qualities he
represents. While a leadership program is not unique among our peers, it is
differentiating. In developing a leadership program with strong connections to George
Washington, we offer the following ideas:

      Create a formalized curricular and/or co-curricular program in leadership
       development that builds upon the College‟s existing strengths. Such a program
       would extend the College‟s current NHS scholars program by making it the
       starting point of the college experience for our students, not simply an admissions

      Students who choose to engage in the program would develop a personalized
       leadership plan that incorporates self-directed learning, group learning and
       experimental learning and includes such activities and experiences as service
       learning, public speaking, persuasive writing, student government, student athlete
       mentoring, team captaincies, resident assistantships, peer mentoring, internships,
       study abroad, etiquette education, Echo Hill team building and more.

      We should brand our leadership program using our George Washington identity
       and position us as a college that has been educating leaders since 1782.

      Consideration should be given to creating a curricular or co-curricular dimension
       to the program by offering a certificate in Leadership Development, possibly in
       conjunction with the Creative Leadership Center or some other prominent
       institution. Students who participate in the program would graduate with both a
       bachelor‟s degree and a certificate in leadership.

   Leadership lessons could be put to practice in the community through an
    expanded community outreach program, perhaps using our students to provide
    mentoring in leadership to local students in middle and secondary schools.

   As the program develops, we could work to create an endowed annual award to
    be presented to the most outstanding student in the Leadership program, similar to
    the Sophie Kerr Award.

The leadership program represents just one opportunity for the College to assert its
claim to George Washington. We propose consideration of the following:

   The College should consider relocating the George Washington statue from its
    current out-of-the-way location as a way to emphasize the significance of the
    George Washington heritage. Possible locations could include the plaza in front of
    the Casey Building or inside the Casey Building on the first floor. If the College
    decides to keep the statue where it currently stands, a design plan should be
    developed to landscape and light it for greater impact, and to create pathways that
    lead people to it. Additionally, since George Washington is just one of multiple
    presidents who have visited our campus, we should create a more visible and
    dignified display of the presidential plaques we currently possess. The current
    placement of plaques in front of William Smith Hall is inadequate.

   The use of George Washington quotes emblazoned on walls and building
    entrances, which is already done in some buildings, should be formalized across
    campus. The new stadium complex, for example, might carry an appropriate GW
    quote at its entrance.

   We must make George Washington relevant to 18 year olds in the 21 st century.
    We certainly won‘t succeed at that task if we continue to focus on the ossified
    George, the lifeless icon. We need to help students relate to the youthful,
    unformed George, and draw parallels between the choices they are making in
    their lives and the choices he made as a young adult. For example, we could
    model our active learning approach to reflect the informal, self-directed education
    that Washington achieved through experience, experiment and observation.

   We should explore how our connection to George Washington can more closely
    connect us to Washington, D.C. Our growing relationship with Mt. Vernon is one
    possibility, but we should pursue others as well.

   We should assess the prospects for raising funds to endow a chair in George
    Washington and Early American History and appoint a nationally prominent GW
    scholar to our faculty.

   In recent memory, the College presented an Award of Excellence to individuals of
    true national and international stature, with recipients such as Toni Morrison and
    Andrew Wyeth spending time on campus. The award has fallen into neglect,

    however. We should explore the opportunity of restoring it to active status and
    renaming it the George Washington Medal.

   We can derive increased fundraising power through consistent and meaningful
    use of our George Washington birthright. Based on the success of the Campaign
    for Washington‘s College, it appears that our connection to George Washington
    appeals to potential donors and helps raise our institutional significance beyond
    what it might otherwise be.

   Serious consideration should be give to creating curricular, co-curricular and
    extracurricular content specifically related to George Washington and the
    Founding Fathers. We should consider an academic minor or concentration in the
    Colonial Experience, much as Gettysburg College offers in Civil War studies. A
    stronger academic element should be incorporated into the Washington birthday
    festivities and the College should consider the value of a one-day, all-campus
    symposium that explores Washington-related topics and their contemporary
    relevance. To create a common freshman experience, we could assign a book
    about Washington and/or his times as summer reading prior to freshman arrival,
    and discuss the book in group sessions as part of freshman orientation activities.
    We might also consider regularly including Washington-themed topics in the
    College‘s CNW seminars.

   In recruiting trustees, especially non-alumni trustees, we should emphasize the
    significance of serving on the same board on which George Washington served.
    To honor this heritage, we should consider ways to make George Washington
    ―present‖ at each meeting – an empty chair in his honor, perhaps, or opening
    remarks that draw from his writings and letters.

   We should assess the value of creating an honorary society for high achieving
    students that is GW branded, similar perhaps to the University of Virginia‘s
    model of having meritorious seniors live on the Jefferson lawn. Might our own
    Hill dorms serve a similar function?

   The branding opportunity inherent in the new GW book prize must be maximized.
    For example, the Starr Center should seek to sponsor a Washington College-
    branded national poll about the American presidency and/or George Washington
    to help promote the annual Washington Book Prize.

   A number of years ago, Professor Robert Day of the English Department wrote a
    much reprinted essay for students on how to maximize the value of their freshman
    year. We should write a similarly purposed essay answering the question, ―What
    relevance does an 18th century patriot have to an 18-year-old choosing a college
    in the 21st century?‖ and use the essay in admission recruitment.

   A George Washington essay/scholarship competition and campus event, similar in
    intent to the successful Sophie Kerr Scholarship competition and weekend visit,

       would aid the College in recruiting talented high school students interested in
       American history and culture.

      We could host an event in Annapolis each year in the Old Senate Chamber where
       GW resigned his military commission (December 1783), perhaps with a major
       speaker and prominent political figures, donors and alumni in attendance, poss ibly
       with a reception in the Governor‘s Mansion to follow. If practical, we could time
       this event during the Legislative session to maximize its impact among Maryland

Priority decision:
     Are we willing to embrace our George Washington heritage as a defining element
        of our brand?
     Do we view student leadership development as sufficiently appealing and
        valuable that we are willing to invest in an expanded program?

Major new cost implications:
    Funding for a much expanded leadership program with a significant curricular
       and/or co-curricular dimension
    Creating an endowed George Washington chair
    Relocating the George Washington statue or enhancing its existing location

Our location as a competitive advantage
For those who know and love Washington College, it is difficult to imagine our rural,
somewhat isolated setting in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as anything
other than a boon and blessing. There are some who might see our setting as more
albatross than advantage, however. Consider that less than a third of high school
admissions prospects are willing to attend college in a small town or rural setting. On first
visit, Chestertown may seem impossibly small and provincial to a teenager who is
accustomed to weekends at the mega- mall, endless choices of social and recreational
activities, and the vibe of a big city. What appeals to adults about Chestertown may not
translate to 18 year olds. Consider that we‟re off the beaten path, near no interstate or
other college. If you are a student planning an admissions road trip to multiple colleges,
you literally have to go out of your way to reach us.

Conversely, if you‟re a parent of a prospective student, a potential donor or friend, or an
alumnus, Chestertown may appeal as an ideal college setting. The quintessential small-
town ambiance, the colonial history and architecture and the increasingly sophistication
of the town are advantageous to the College.

The College must accept the challenge of negotiating this dichotomy and commit to
maximizing the appeal of its location, while minimizing the negatives.

      First, we need to get serious about using the Chester River and the Chesapeake
       Bay as distinguishing characteristics of our college. To do so, we must invest in
       more and better facilities and programs connected to the water. Our waterfront
       academic and recreational facilities require upgrade and expansion and a land use
       plan must be developed for the waterfront we own or wish to own. We should
       examine the need and opportunity for workboats that serve as classrooms and
       bay-worthy boats based in Rock Hall to expand our programs to the Chesapeake.
       While the specifics of a waterfront facilities plan are beyond the scope of this task
       force, we strongly encourage the College to fulfill the marketing opportunity
       presented us by our access to water.

      We must work to connect the Starr Center for the Study of the American
       Experience and especially The Center for the Environment and Society more
       closely to our location. The Centers housed in the Custom Ho use on the
       waterfront are a linchpin of Washington College‟s presence along the Chester
       River. The College needs to explore ways to draw more students more regularly
       to the Custom House. Consideration should be given to turning the scruffy
       parking area between the Custom House and the water into a garden or lawn area
       where campus and public events could be held. Ideally, the Centers would have
       access to a boat moored along the Chester River waterfront that could be used for
       historic field trips and tours by the Starr Center, and for nature and environmental
       programs by the Center for the Environment and Society. A boat could be a
       powerful marketing ambassador for the College, carrying our name (and our
       students and faculty) to ports throughout the Chesapeake. When moored in

    Chestertown, it would represent to prospective students and other visitors a strong
    visual symbol of Washington College‘s connection to the Chesapeake, to history,
    and to experiential learning.

   Students should be exposed to our waterfront facilities and access as early as
    possible. Means should be found to have every applicant and parent who visit
    campus venture to the waterfront. Freshman orientation should have a strong
    waterfront component, with the goal of having every student on the water as
    quickly as possible and fully informed and trained to take advantage of our
    waterfront facilities and amenities.

   Across all academic divisions, we should develop increased curricular
    opportunities for students to use the Chester, the Chesapeake and the Eastern
    Shore as active learning laboratories.

   We should develop and promote recreational opportunities that take advantage of
    our location, that potentially have great appeal to students, and that are
    distinctively ours: sailing, kayaking, gunning, horseback riding, cycling, etc.
    Washington College can and should become a college especially appealing to
    outdoor enthusiasts.

   We should create more opportunities for waterfront and Eastern Shore
    experiences for students, their parents and alumni. For e xample, a fall festival on
    the water with recreation activities, seafood feast, themed parade and more could
    become the replacement for our lack of a football team and Homecoming
    weekend. Although the biggest celebration in town, the Tea Party Festival, occurs
    after the end of classes, could we have more of a presence and engage the
    Washington College community in the event?

   Chestertown is quickly becoming a distinctive, in-demand brand on its own. We
    should more fully link and align ourselves with its ascension in appeal and

   We should consider ways to make Chestertown even more of a vibrant college
    town. Could some college facilities be located off-campus, such as the bookstore,
    a theater, college-owned faculty housing or other facilities? Should we encourage
    or even be a partner in the development of a high-quality inn and conference
    center that would enable Chestertown to host academic and corporate
    conferences? Other colleges have done so. What can we learn from other college
    towns to make our own even more appealing?

   The task force endorses President Tipson‟s call for Washington College to
    become the cultural center of the Upper Shore through an expanded program of
    performing arts and gallery exhibitions.

      As appealing as the Eastern Shore is to many, we must attempt to overcome the
       negatives often associated with the region by African-American students. We
       could become a leader in supporting and developing programs that explore and
       celebrate the Upper Shore‟s African-American heritage, and should even more
       actively recruit African-American students from the Eastern Shore, since they
       might have greater familiarity and acceptance of our location.

      We should determine the marketing significance, if any, of our perceived isolation
       caused by the lack of public transportation to get students to Washington,
       Baltimore and Philadelphia. If research demonstrates that the problem is real, we
       should seek solutions and create structured programs that expose students to the
       cultural, recreational, social and educational resources of our nearby cities.

      Research among students could help us identify what aspects of our location are
       not appealing to prospective students. Can the College assume an expanded role
       in developing some of the amenities the community lacks, similar to what F&M
       College did when it developed a shopping center adjacent to its campus to meet
       student needs?

      The College must recognize that Rt. 213, one of two main arteries of the Upper
       Shore, will only become busier in years to come. What impact will the
       increasingly congested traffic that bisects our campus have on the quality of
       campus life? What has happened to previous discussions to construct a by-pass
       around the town? The College should work with county and state transportation
       planners, and elected representatives, to explore solutions to what might
       eventually become a marketing problem.

Priority decision:
     Are we willing to make our location a truly defining element of a Washington
        College education?

Major new cost implications:
    Improving and expanding our waterfront facilities for academic, recreational and
       social activities
    Developing additional curricular content and capacity that uses our location as an
       academic resource, including the development of new courses, programs and
    Developing a major performing arts center that serves as a regional draw
    Extending college facilities off-campus, such as a relocated bookstore,
       performance facility, conference center, etc.
    Funding a functional, reliable transportation system to link us with nearby cities

Educating effective communicators

Marketing that is genuine (and successful) draws upon the values and truths of an
organization. A genuine and prominent truth about Washington College is that we value
creativity expressed through literary writing. It is no exaggeration to state that what many
outsiders know of Washington College relates to the Sophie Kerr Prize, which serves as
the public personification of our literary reputation and a significant part of our brand
identity. While the College‘s literary programming constitutes a significant dimension of
our academic enterprise, and attracts a significant percent of our applicants, the literary
experience is not universal for every student. In relation to our marketing and branding
opportunities, this non-universality requires the College to make a choice. We can
continue to build brand associations with our defined literary program, or we can attempt
to expand our ―writing‖ reputation by extending its definition to include ed ucating all
students to be highly effective communicators through the written and spoken word. As
with the concept of student leadership development, the decision on this choice lies
beyond the scope of this task force, but we challenge the College‘s strategic planning
committee to wrestle with a decision.

If we choose to stay with a narrow definition, we must find ways to construct and market
the creative writing program beyond the Sophie Kerr Prize, which now serves as our
principal brand marker. The section that follows on the three Centers of Excellence
addresses this approach in greater detail.

If we were to choose the broader definition, we could use the existing creative writing
program as a foundation on which to build a more encompassing program, which would
likely have both curricular and co-curricular aspects. Among the task force members,
many expressed the belief that an essential skill for graduates to acquire is the ability to
write and speak effectively and to communicate ideas clearly, creatively and
persuasively. Although it will require considerable program development, this brand
positioning offers considerable appeal:
      It builds upon our existing cachet in creative writing, a program with dedicated
       financial, curricular and co-curricular resources that is perceived positively by
       both our internal and external constituencies. Another precedent supporting this
       idea is our Senior Obligation, which is often satisfied with a substantial written
       thesis and/or oral presentation. We also have an established lineage of alumni
       from the past 30 years who have made successful and distinguished careers in
       writing, journalism and publishing.
      The power to effective expression is a skill in high demand among students and
       parents, no doubt because they know it is in demand by employers. The 2001 Art
       & Science Group study determined that almost a third of the College‘s non-
       applicant inquiries and admit declines stated they would be attracted to a college
       that promised to help them develop superior writing and speaking skills. Among

       the brand positions that were tested, this was the only one that promised
       significant benefits were it to be emphasized in our marketing strategy.
      This positioning can be expanded across the entire curriculum and extended into
       co-curricular and extra-curricular initiatives. Elements beyond creative writing
       could include non-fiction writing, journalism, speech writing, scientific writing,
       rhetoric, public speaking, debate and argumentation, effective listening, drama,
       logic, historical writing, business writing and more. Extensive requirements for
       effective oral presentations could be built into the curriculum. Our emphasis
       would be cross-disciplinary, equipping all majors with a valuable skill.
      This branding model addresses a contemporary need, the fear that substantive,
       reasoned, and persuasive communication is under assault in the internet age, and
       supports our mission as a liberal arts college to create communicators who can
       more than hold their own in the public arena of ideas and discourse.
      Faculty, visiting speakers and communication experts could serve as models for
       effective public speaking, and educate students on how to be an effective
       presenter of ideas. New student organizations could be formed — an intramural
       and intercollegiate debating society, for example, as well as a more substantive
       version of the existing Toastmasters club. This positioning would present the
       College an opportunity and an obligation to enhance the quality and consistency
       of our many student publications.
      The brand position could also be combined with the leadership education,
       exploring how communication contributes to effective leadership through
       listening, understanding, persuading and consensus-building.

Priority decision:
     Is a program of writing and rhetoric a genuine brand distinction? Should we focus
        our attention instead on the existing creative writing program?

Major new costs implication:
    Faculty and/or administrative staffing to develop and operate such as program

The Centers of Excellence and their marketing role
Each of the three Centers of Excellence at Washington College, two of which are
established and operating, and the third of which is still in the discussion stage, represents
the College‘s public claim to national eminence. While marketing is not and should not
be the Centers‘ primary emphasis, they constitute jewels in our crown and should be
promoted as such. These Centers bring the world to Washington College, and bring
Washington College to the world. The College must commit to building their reputations
and nurturing their continued growth.

The Centers can and must play a key role in making the Washington College experience
unique for our students, and must engage our faculty across disciplines. The Centers
should be seen as dynamic, synergistic and intellectually robust, capable of pulling the
campus together in discourse and discovery, rather than as isolated entities focused on
narrow specialties. While the realization of the Centers‘ potential lies beyond the scope of
this task force, we offer the following recommendations on how to increase their
marketing impact.

General recommendations

      Each of the Centers should have at least one annual keynote event of national

      Each Center should have a distinguished summer program in addition to its
       school- year activities.

      Rather than simply paying guest lecturers to speak for an hour and then leave
       campus, the Centers should concentrate more on mini- residencies for scholars,
       artists, and experts who would work and teach on campus for a few days to a few
       weeks. We would benefit doubly: from having the expert on campus for a longer
       time, and from cultivating a new ally for the College who could carry our
       reputation to the broader world.

      The Centers should regularly sponsor weekend and evening off-campus
       excursions that bring students, faculty, alumni and friends of the College to
       relevant events and institutions in Washington, D.C., Annapolis, Wilmington,
       Philadelphia, Baltimore and the region.

      The Centers should be supported in developing and sponsoring academic
       conferences and publications, printed and online, that raise the College‘s national

      Each Center should be expected to sponsor an event promoting its mission during
       such events as freshman orientation, fall family weekend, graduation/reunion
       weekend and/or the Tea Party festival.

The C.V. Starr Center

The Starr Center has already made a significant contribution in raising the College‘s
profile. The $50,000 George Washington Book Prize, to be awarded annually on
Washington‘s Birthday, will likely draw national attention, for example. But in addition
to its role in building the College‘s national stature, the Center should devote increased
attention to enriching students‘ experiences at the College, thus aiding in recruitment and
retention. In particular, the Center should create an effective outreach program to students
interested in, or majoring in history and American Studies. The Center should also take
the lead in publicly asserting Washington College‘s connection to the historic past and to
the Founders. We recommend:

      The Starr Center‘s well-publicized summer American Studies Institute for
       students from Muslim countries should be expanded to include more of our own
       students, who could live and take classes alongside the visitors, either for credit or
       in fulfillment of their senior obligations.

      While on campus, the Washington Book Prize winner should give a public
       lecture, visit classes and lead seminars for students. Selected students should be
       invited to the prize banquet at Mount Vernon. The winning book should be
       considered for use in courses and symposia, as well as for freshman orientation or
       CNW courses.

      The Starr Center should sponsor trips to museums, historic sites, and Washington,
       D.C. institutions.

      We should evaluate the value of having the coordinator of the Washington Prize
       serve as the College‘s point person for promoting internally and externally our
       historic connection to George Washington.

      The Starr Center should evaluate the benefits of creating a summer program for
       high-school teachers of American history as a way of furthering its education
       mission and increasing admissions referrals from high-school teachers.

Center for the Environment and Society (CES)

While it has forged strong connections to the surrounding community, the Center needs
to build a larger regional and national reputation, as well as develop more programs for
students. Just as the Starr Center should stand for the College‘s connection to George

Washington, CES should stand for our connection to the Chesapeake Bay. We

      This Center should assert our tie to the Chesapeake more explicitly with a name
       change to the Chesapeake Center for the Environment and Society (―Chesapeake
       Center‖ for short).

      In hiring a new director of CES, the College should seek a candidate who is
       capable of building a national reputation for the Center.

      CES should organize an annual ―River Day‖ for all freshmen, with participation
       by the Starr Center and other groups and departments. River Day would include
       opportunities for boating, wakeboarding, kayaking, and sailing, as well as river
       cruises (on the Sultana, perhaps), nature walks, archaeological demonstrations and
       more. The day would end with a crab feast at Hynson Pavilion.

      CES could take the lead in ―experiential learning‖ at the College by sponsoring
       weekend hiking trips, nature walks and camping trips with both recreational and
       educational components.

      The Center should sponsor a summer ―Bay Studies‖ program for college and/or
       high school students, similar to those sponsored by Echo Hill Outdoor School
       (and perhaps in partnership with Echo Hill). Ideally, the program would take
       place aboard a College-owned boat. If well planned, this program could draw
       media attention and become a signature attraction for prospective students.

      CES should evaluate the value of creating a summer program for high-school
       teachers of ecology and science as a way of furthering its education mission and
       increasing admissions referrals from high school teachers.

The literary center

While this Center does not yet officially exist, or bear a name or defined focus, many of
its components are already in place: the Literary House, the Sophie Kerr Fund, the
Literary House Press, and the letterpress facility. None of these elements is fulfilling its
marketing potential, other than the annual announcement of the Sophie Kerr Prize
winner. Indeed, some argue that the College‘s reputation as a literary school is slipping,
especially in comparison to emerging rivals. We recommend:

      More can be made of the Sophie Kerr Prize than just a 10-second announcement
       at Commencement and a flurry of media attention. For example, a week or two
       earlier, there should be a special dinner for all contestants, immediately followed
       by a public event at which students contending for the Prize would read sections
       of their entries.

      The College should sponsor an annual Book Fair to which it would invite authors
       in various fields and genres who would lead seminars on their work and their
       craft. This event would serve both students and the public.

      The Literary House and Sophie Kerr Fund should sponsor more mini- residencies
       for poets and authors, rather than the current ―hit-and-run‖ lectures typical of
       current visits.

      The Literary House Press should be supported as a full- fledged college publishing
       house designed to enhance our literary reputation, and offer students hands-on
       opportunities to learn about both the literary and business sides of publishing.

      Washington College should seek to have its own distinguished literary magazine,
       comparable to the Gettysburg Review.

      The College needs to evaluate the benefit of offering more curricular and co-
       curricular programs in journalism and nonfiction writing, and help students
       acquire the skills necessary to improve the editorial quality of student-produced

      The College‘s underused letterpress facilities could become the centerpiece of a
       distinctive program in book arts designed to serve students and all book

      The College should offer evening and weekend trips to Library of Congress
       events, Folger Shakespeare Theatre plays and other literary and theatrical events
       in the region.

      The College should evaluate the value of establishing a summer progra m for high
       school teachers of creative writing as a way of furthering its education mission
       and increasing admissions referrals from high school teachers.

Priority decisions:
     Deciding if and how to integrate the existing centers more fully into the life o f the
     Deciding if and how to designate and develop creative writing as a third center of

Major new cost implications:
    Funding to support increased programs, events and scholarly output from each
    Funding for endowed chair(s)

Defining and marketing to our constituents
Washington College interacts with numerous constituencies, both internal and external.
Internal constituencies are those who have or have had a direct experience or relationship
with the College, while external constituencies are those who have, at most, only a
limited familiarity with the institution, but whom we wish to know more about us.

Inte rnal constituencies:

Current students
Their parents and siblings
Faculty and administrative staff
Affinity groups such as WC All

External constituencies:

Prospective students
Admission influencers (teachers, counselors, parents, etc.)
Prospective donors
Community (Chestertown/Kent County/Eastern Shore residents)
Higher education influencers
Government officials and regulators


      Ideally, a written, detailed marketing, communication or outreach plan should be
       developed annually for each of these constituencies, and an administrative staff
       member should be assigned to manage both the relationship and the
       implementation of the plan. The coordination and supervision of the individual
       plan for each constituency should be the responsibility of the chief marketing
       officer of the College.

      Among these internal and external constituencies, the College must assess which
       require special attention because they represent either a problem in need of fixing
       or an opportunity to be secured. Secondary audiences should not construe their
       status as being less important, only that special needs or circumstances warrant
       special attention. The committee judges that, at this point in time, our priority
       constituencies (and the focus of our most fervent marketing efforts) should be the

Recommended priority constituents:

      Prospective students/applicants
      Admissions influencers
      Alumni
      Current and prospective donors, and past donors who have disengaged from the
      Trustees and former trustees who have disengaged from the College
      Media, especially U. S. News & World Report and the Princeton Re view.

Prospective students and admissions influencer sources

The College‟s marketing efforts directed toward prospective students and secondary
school influencers include personal recruiting (high school visits, college fairs, campus
visits, etc.), direct mail, email, web-based resources (both our own as well as proprietary
sites), and print (listings in college guidebooks and recruitment brochures). In most
cases, our targets of marketing opportunity are well-defined according to geographic,
interest-based, ability-based, gender-based, or ethnicity-based parameters. And, in most
cases, our marketing messages are broad in scope, focusing more on the „whole‟ of the
College and the set of possibilities inherent in a Washington College „experience‟. The
goal of our marketing efforts is to make our communication with prospective students
and secondary school influencers personal, individualized, serial and compelling. While
these efforts are growing ever more sophisticated, we believe that our admissions
communications could benefit from insights yielded from greater use of marketing
research, a tool that is now used only occasionally. We also recommend closer
involvement of the College Relations office in tracking trends in admissions marketing.

We encourage more ambitious use of President Tipson in the admissions process,
particularly in making personal contact with those students whom we most want to
recruit. We encourage his outreach to key admissions influencers, particularly among
     Private-school heads, as we have done in the past year in Baltimore and
     public high-school principals in affluent communities from which we hope to
         draw more full-pay students
     referral sources for diversifying our student body, especially in the African-
         American, Jewish and Asian communities, all of which are currently
         underrepresented in our student body.
In addition to the involvement of the President, we should explore the opportunity of
involving greater numbers of students, trustees, alumni, parents and faculty in making
contacts with secondary school teachers, counselors and heads of school.


At Washington College, the comparatively low level of alumni engagement with their
alma mater represents a continuing challenge. The scope of the problem was reflected in
focus groups that the College conducted among Baltimore-area alumni a few years ago.

Participants expressed an appreciation for their education and pride in the College, but
also revealed a significant distancing from the formal alumni program. Instead, they
created their own informal networks with their college classmates, and were largely
critical of such activities as reunion weekend and most alumni chapter events. The key to
re-engaging alumni, we believe, is to tap into the unstructured, informal networks that
they have created for themselves. The success of the alumni online community, which is
slated to be ready by fall 2005, must be a priority since it will allow us to connect alumni
in new ways, both with the College and among themselves. Resolving the alumni
problem lies beyond the ability of this task force, however. We recommend the creation
of an ad-hoc committee of alumni, staff and trustees to explore how our alumni relations
program can be re- invigorated. As part of this effort, we also recommend conducting a
comprehensive alumni survey to identify issues and opportunities, and the development
and implementation of a strategic plan to help us reengage our alumni body.

Curre nt and prospective donors, and donors who have disengaged fro m the College

Greater effort should be devoted to understanding the interests of prospective donors and
finding ways to cultivate them at college-sponsored activities that coincide with their
areas of interest. Again, the emphasis should be placed on inviting these prospective
donors to spend time on campus with our faculty and students. If the prospects live at
some distance from campus, we should explore opportunities to bring campus resources
to them, such as faculty lectures and student performance groups. We must also pay
greater attention to cultivating potential donors within our own backyard, such as retirees
and weekenders who locate to the Eastern Shore, particularly in Kent, Queen Anne‟s and
Talbot Counties. The appeal of George Washington should also be more fully explored
and developed as a point of engagement with potential donors.

Trustees and former trustees who have disengaged from the College

With their gifts of talent, time and money, trustees are essential to advancing the College.
We suggest that a significant portion of a senior staff member‟s time be allocated to
nurturing the relationship between trustees and the College, especially among trustees
who are not alumni. While this is a primary responsibility of the President and the Board
Chair, it is difficult for them to handle this task alone among 36 trustees and the growing
ranks of emeritus trustees. Special attention should also be paid to past trustees who have
been allowed to slip away from the institution. We suggest creation of an annual event
honoring all trustees, past and present, for their service to the College, reminding them of
the common experience they share with George Washington.


Detailed recommendations regarding media, specifically U.S. News & World Report and
the Princeton Review, are reported in the section titled “Improving our position in
admissions guides” on page 34. We must comment, however, on the College‟s growing
success in securing prominent placements and increased visibility in national media, an
achievement resulting from the scholarly output of our faculty and the skillful media

relations work of our College Relations staff. This success absolutely must continue,
since it brings the College national attention befitting an institution with amb itions to be a
truly national liberal arts college. As vital as this national publicity is, we must also find
the means to be highly visible in the hometowns of our prospective applicants and their
families, which we currently are not. We recommend the development of a “grassroots”
media relations program that will target community and daily newspapers in the
College‟s key admissions markets. This effort, which would require modest additional
resources, will entail the development of localized press releases featuring current
students who will be recognized for their academic, athletic and extra-curricular
accomplishments. Repeated exposure of the College through this means will build lasting
awareness of the College in our most important recruitment markets.

Additional recommendations:

Beyond these audience-specific recommendations, we recommend the following:

      The President should assume a leadership role in continually addressing the issue
       of marketing before faculty, staff, and trustee assemblies.

      The College should annually produce a pocket-sized card, similar to the card
       recently developed by College Relations, to convey the College's key marketing
       messages. The card should be broadly distributed among our internal audiences
       and be accompanied by a letter from the President that underscores the
       importance of each individual as a member of the College‟s marketing team.

      Each of the College‟s affinity groups (Alumni Council, WC-ALL, Women‟s
       League, Shoremen Club, Friends of Miller Library, etc.) should be asked to
       examine their mission and activities in light of the College‟s marketing goals to
       ensure that their efforts reinforce our institutional branding.

      We should do more to encourage campus visits by external constituencies. The
       College participates in regional tours of high-school college counselors, but could
       we explore hosting training programs for these professionals? Are there
       opportunities to host media officials, perhaps in connection with national
       journalists visiting campus under the auspices of the Harwood Program? The
       College should also seek to host higher-education organizations on campus, such
       as meetings and conferences of the Centennial Conference, Maryland Higher
       Education Commission, the Maryland Independent College and Univers ities
       Association, and other state, regional and national organizations. The College
       should also explore opportunities to host programs or conferences that would
       draw to campus officials of state and federal governments and Washington, D.C.-
       based national and international non-profits and NGOs.

Priority decisions:

      Are we willing to require the development and implementation of an annual
       marketing plan for each constituency of the College?
      Is it possible to expand the president‟s involvement in admissions recruiting?
      Is there value in appointing an ad hoc committee to explore how we can improve
       our relations with College alumni?

Major new cost implication:
    Review of the alumni program may result in recommendations for increased
       staffing, expanded programs and new facility

Building our marketing capacity
As the College seeks to expand its marketing efforts and develop more sophisticated
communication strategies, it is imperative that we have the resources needed to put these
plans into action. The task force has identified needs that fall under four key categories:
marketing decision- making, technology, advertising, and staffing. The College Relations
office has accomplished much with its current resources, but we believe much more
could be done if resources were improved in these key areas.

Marketing decision-making

The committee recommends that the President designate a chief marketing officer for the
College. If we are to achieve the synergy that can come only from a closely coordinated
program, we must have someone at a high level who ensures that all our efforts support
the College‘s brand strategy. Further, this person must have the authority (and the
wisdom to use it wisely) to reach across administrative ―silos‖ to achieve adherence to
defined brand strategies. Even more important than the enforcement role, the chief
marketing officer would be responsible for training staff in fundamental marketing
principles and educating them to become better marketers.
We also recommend that the chief marketing office chair a marketing advisory council, a
small group of alumni, trustees and friends of the College who are experienced
professionals in the field of marketing and communications. The council would provide
advice to the chief marketing officer in the implementation and maintenance of the
College‘s brand strategy.
An additional responsibility of the chief marketing officer would be conducting an annual
or bi-annual marketing tour of other colleges and universities by a team of senior staff to
glean new ideas, explore what our competition is doing, and sustain an outward
marketing focus.

The role of electronic marketing and the web

The role of electronic communication in admissions, alumni relations and development is
expected to expand broadly in the years ahead, and Washington College must keep pace
with the competitive environment, particularly in admissions. The office of College
Relations will likely be the source of the College‘s electronic communications efforts,
and will need the staff and resources to get the job done, but it is the responsibility of all
departments to work with increased collaboration toward a goal of achieving a
sophisticated electronic communication capability. While the College web site represents
the principal electronic communication of the College, it is not and should not be the only
form. For example, the College must become more adept in using outbound electronic
marketing to admissions prospects and applicants, alumni and donors.

The College website is and will continue to be our first point of contact with the majority
of our admissions prospects, and its role in connecting us with alumni and friends of the
College is equally vital. Our WebTrends reports indicate that the website is used
primarily for admissions information by off- network visitors. Beyond the homepage
portal, sites such as admissions FAQs, majors and academic programs and the online
campus tour are the most frequently visited pages. The Washington College Magazine
and alumni pages are frequently visited as well, indicating that alumni are actively using
the site.

Our web site traffic statistics reveal a continued upward trend in usage. Web site traffic
statistics for 2004 showed a 39 percent increase in the total number of off-campus page
views compared to 2003 (1,948,396 in 2003, 2,708,642 in 2004), and a 26 percent
increase in the number of daily unique visitors. The average page views per visitor
climbed from 8.9 to 10.3, and the average user session increased from 3:41 to 4:06
minutes. These statistics demonstrate the web site's vital and ever increasing role in
conveying Washington College‘s image and message.

The growing importance of the web is raising both staffing and technology challenges.
The college‘s single web staffer is overtaxed and unable to devote the majority of his
time and efforts to tasks that enhance and refresh the web site‘s primary function and
support WC‘s marketing strategy. The problem is ―bottlenecking.‖ Without access to a
capable full- time assistant — or even to one who is reliable and capable on a part-time
basis — almost all additions and modifications to web content come through one person
(except for WC athletics information and maintenance of WC‘s Blackboard site). The
issue then becomes one of time management and setting priorities against the desire to
maintain good relations and to be of service to WC‘s internal community of faculty,
departments, academic centers, and student organizations. Important marketing tasks
such as comprehensive redesigns or developing features and content that advance our
marketing position and student recruitment can be delayed or hindered when the volume
of other requests becomes too great.

Recommended Actions:

      The Web Editor‘s job description must clearly define a marketing
       communications responsibility as the top priority of the position and empower
       him or her to set priorities that support the College‘s strategic marketing plan first
       and foremost. A change in title to something such as ―Director of Electronic
       Marketing Communications‖ would clearly express this resetting of College
       priorities and describe the essential marketing communications role of this

      The College should adopt a Content Management System (CMS) as soon as
       financially feasible. Without it, the Web Editor is burdened with the responsibility
       of maintaining a dynamic, ever-growing, ever-changing site with the equivalent of
       stone-age tools. A CMS would provide an automated, sophisticated system that
       would allow other staff members with no prior HTML or web software

       experience to manage specific content areas and assist with basic text updates.
       CMS would enable academic departments, faculty members, student clubs and
       organizations, and academic centers to change and manage the content of their
       web content on their own, consistent with WC design and editorial standards,
       without the assistance of the web editor. The addition of CMS would free the
       editor to devote the majority of time to essential marketing tasks. The cost of the
       CMS should be viewed as an institutional investment, rather than a marketing
       expense and as an essential ingredient for managing and maximizing our web
       resources. The approximate cost is $75,000 for the first year, with an additional
       $30,000 per year thereafter. There is also a likely cost for not adding a CMS
       system, since the time demands made upon the web editor from faculty, students
       and administration will in the near term require the hiring of additional staff if a
       CMS system is not put into place.

      A new streaming media server and two additional digital media workstations are
       needed to expand our capabilities to create and host new multimedia components
       on our web site. The cost of a new streaming media server would be $10,000. The
       two additional workstations would cost about $5,000 each for Macintosh G5s
       with monitors and software. Short marketing videos and multimedia pieces could
       be created and broadcast with these new hardware components. The workstations
       would be placed in the Beck Technology Lab in William Smith Hall, where
       students, staff, and faculty could be trained in streaming media production, some
       of which can be developed or tailored for web marketing purposes.

      We need to establish new standards and training for campus-wide database
       management to ensure accurate and consistent data. A universal protocol does not
       currently exist, and as a result, data is often entered using different guidelines
       from department to department. Improved data management is essential to alumni
       and student relations as well as to any marketing initiatives we undertake. This
       would likely require consultation and training in order to implement. Often one
       office of the college possesses updated info on alumni, for example, but info in
       the central database is outdated.

Adve rtising

Washington College currently has no advertising budget. What advertising the College
places is for admissions, but this amounts to no more than an occasional advertisement in
an admissions guide or a regional magazine. The College‟s lack of investment in
advertising is not unusual for a selective undergraduate liberal arts institution. Indeed,
among colleges similar to ours advertising is still the exception, not the norm. In our
region, the only close competitor that regularly advertises is McDaniel College, and its
campaign principally supports the re-branding of the college from its previous name,
Western Maryland College. Advertising by selective colleges and universities is more
typically in support of profit- making part-time or continuing-education programs, not the
full-time undergraduate program.

Advertising is an expensive marketing tool. Depending on the geographic markets we
wished to target, and the intensity and duration of our campaign, we could easily spend
$500,000 annually on a full-scale advertising effort similar to McDaniel College‟s
campaign. Only the President and the Board of Visitors & Governors are in a position to
assess the feasibility of such an investment. Nonetheless, a dedicated advertising budget
of any size would be useful, and even a relatively small budget of $50,000 could be
judiciously applied to target specific markets and convey key institutional messages. For
example, our campus regularly hosts a parade of impressive visitors, individuals whose
presence and association could help define the College‟s intellectual vigor and academic
quality to important external audiences. But audiences who would be interested and
impressed are largely unaware, because we have no way of reaching them other than
press releases. If we could fund a modest program of underwriting on public radio
stations in Baltimore, Salisbury and Washington, D.C., and use the underwriting credits
to promote our impressive public events, we would have a new platform for branding the
College to an influential audience. Another idea, this one targeted to high-school students
and their parents, is to advertise in the seasonal high-school sports preview sections
published by newspapers such as The Sun and Washington Post. Villa Julie College has
used this approach successfully.

Staff Resources

Additional staffing for College Relations would likely be needed to implement many of
this report‟s recommendations. Other successful liberal arts institutions such as Franklin
& Marshall and Dickinson College maintain college relations staffs that are larger in raw
numbers and on a per-capita basis (using either enrollment or operating budget). The
addition of two to three staff assistants would greatly improve the Office of College
Relations‟ capacity, yet keep us at or below the staffing levels of peer institutions. We
also need a full or part-time staff photographer, or a greatly increased photography
budget, to keep up with the constant demands of our publications and web site.

Priority decisions:
     Should we designate a chief marketing officer for the College?
     Are we willing to invest in a major upgrade of the College‟s web capacity and an
        improved database management system?
     Is advertising to promote the College feasible and desirable?
     Are we willing to expand the College Relations staff to accomplish many of the
        recommendations of this report?

Major new cost implications:
    New investments in the web and in database management
    Additional staff for College Relations
    Cost of developing and implementing an advertising campaign

Enhancing the marketing experience for campus visitors
No matter how effective we become in maximizing the quality and persuasiveness of our
media relations, publications, web site and other marketing tools, at some point our
prospects — prospective students, their parents, prospective faculty, alumni, donors,
media, etc. — will step foot on campus. Unless the on-campus experience is consistent
with and reinforces the same qualities and messages we convey through our outreach
efforts, we will have failed as marketers. There is no more powerful marketing than
personal experience. Currently, the experience on visiting the Washington College
campus is of uneven, inconsistent value to supporting our marketing efforts. While the
campus possesses what might colloquially be called ―good bone structure,‖ the skin upon
the bones is not always flattering. We are blessed with one of the oldest, most historic
college campuses in the country, yet we pay little visible homage to our inheritance. We
recommend that the College evaluate the following suggestions for creating a more
pleasing and impressive experience for campus visitors.

      The College must be cognizant of the importance of certain campus facilities in
       shaping impressions of the College, particularly among prospective s tudents and
       their parents. As regrettable as it might be, a dingy classroom may be acceptable,
       for example, while a dingy cafeteria or fitness facility may not be. We need to
       prioritize which facilities exert the maximum influence on a student‘s decision to
       enroll at Washington College, and invest in those facilities accordingly.

      The campus could benefit from a professional landscape plan designed with the
       goal of creating more welcoming and memorable spaces. Buildings that are
       architecturally sterile, such as the newest dorms at the north end of campus,
       should be softened visually with landscaping. The College green, which was once
       graced by a magnificent elm under which generations of students and professors
       held classes, should be evaluated to ensure that we maximize its beauty and
       impact. Could the green entice greater use with the addition of trees, paths and
       comfortable seating? The College must also look at its gateways, along Rt. 213
       and from College Avenue on the south end of campus, to ensure that we are
       creating for visitors the most positive first impressions possible.

      All new buildings and all major renovations to existing buildings should have a
       comprehensive landscape beautification plan for the area surrounding the
       building. This landscape plan should not be an afterthought, as it too often is now,
       but a thoughtful answer to how the building and its environs will enhance the
       campus. Further, the landscape plan should be budgeted for and implemented
       concurrent with the building, and should be considered part of the project costs.

      The College should also develop an exterior lighting plan that emphasizes the
       beauty and architecture of the oldest part of our campus. The exteriors of
       buildings such as the Hill Dorms, Dunning, Bunting and William Smith should be
       bathed in light. Consideration should also be given to lighting walkways to create

    a greater sense of safety and security for campus residents and visitors. There are
    currently too many dark spots.

   First-time visitors to campus often remark that the campus seems devoid of
    students. Attention should be given to developing informal, natural gathering
    spots for students in outdoor settings. The Martha Washington plaza, for example,
    could benefit from the placement of comfortable chairs and tables with sun
    umbrellas. Adirondack chairs scattered in locations across the campus would be
    far greater invitation to linger than the current benches that are designed not for
    comfort, but for formality.

   The College‘s main campus should have visual references that connect it to the
    College‘s location near the river and the bay. Water references, for example,
    might include a pond or fountains. The College previously had at least one
    charming fountain, located between Reid and Minta Martin halls, but eliminated it
    in the early 1970s. The terrace in front of Miller Library is said to have originally
    been intended as a reflecting pool and fountain. The landscape planner should be
    asked to address the idea of using water as a thematic visual reference.

   The College should evaluate the appropriateness of committing officially to
    honoring Georgian or Georgian- inspired architecture in all future campus
    construction. We must appreciate the fact that we are stewards of one of the oldest
    college campuses in America and that we have a responsibility to maintain the
    architectural integrity of the campus.

   The College should consider creating or repurposing an existing building for a
    centralized ―visitors‖ center where external activities of the College are located,
    such as admissions, alumni and bookstore operations. Key to this new facility
    might be a permanent interpretive exhibition on the College‘s connections and
    heritage with George Washington and the other U.S. Presidents who have visited
    the College, using some of the George Washington and other presidential artifacts
    and images that are now scattered across campus. The idea of promoting our
    history could be further extended to include significant personages associated
    with the College and its history. For example, alumnus James Cain, the early 20th
    century journalist, screenwriter and novelist, is recognized nowhere on campus,
    nor is early baseball legend Swish Nicholson. These and other alumni of note
    should be celebrated.

   The historically significant Hill Dorms at the center of campus should be
    evaluated to determine their highest and best use. Their location at the very center
    of campus can make for awkward first appearances to visitors when student
    residents treat the buildings sloppily. The College might consider other uses for
    these buildings, such as offices and classrooms, or create honors housing in the
    same way that the University of Virginia uses its student residences on the Lawn.
    These buildings constitute the most historic legacy of the College, a legacy that

       has not been honored by the often poorly designed and architecturally insensitive
       renovations imposed on the buildings over the decades.

      The College should develop a sophisticated and design-appropriate environmental
       signage system for use across campus and on all facilities. The current signage
       system is poorly designed and inconsistently implemented.

      College campuses were once crowded with bikes, yet today they are little in
       evidence at Washington College. Could we create a livelier campus and greater
       connections with the town if we deliberately encouraged and promoted more bike
       usage? The idea may seem far- fetched, but bikes might also solve one of the
       dilemmas we face in admissions: the difficulty in getting visiting parents and
       students to tour the College‘s waterfront facilities and the two centers of
       excellence located downtown. What if we created a bike tour of campus and
       town, perhaps even a designated bikeway into town and the waterfront, and
       loaned admission visitors bikes to make the pleasant journey? That would
       certainly make a visit to WC distinctive. The idea may justify the resurrection of
       the rails-to-trails proposal for the railroad tracks that bisect the western edge of
       campus. The College was one of the major opponents to the rails-to-trails
       initiative. The idea is not entirely dead, however, and could likely be resurrected
       with the College‘s support. If we succeed in encouraging bike use by students and
       professors, we might also gain the flexibility of locating some future facilities in
       town itself, in locations that could benefit from redevelopment. The former A&P
       location near downtown, for example, would potentially make a splendid location
       for an expanded bookstore that could serve both the college and the community.

Priority decisions:
     Identify and prioritize physical plant needs based on those facilities that most
        directly effect success in student recruitment and retention
     Commit to a landscaping and lighting master plan, and require all new projects to
        incorporate landscaping and lighting as an element of the project costs
     Commit to Georgian or Georgian- influenced design as the standard for all future
        campus architecture
     Identify a future use for the Hill Dorms that recognizes and respects their historic

Major new cost implications:
    Improvements to physical plant
    Landscaping and lighting
    Creating informal ‗gathering‖ spots in key campus locations
    Creating visual references on our main campus to our setting amidst the river and
    Centralized visitors center for admissions, alumni, possibly bookstore, etc.
    Repurposing of historic Hill Dorms
    Campus signage system

   Rails to trail bike route initiative

Improving our position in admissions guides
Washington College remains dependent on tuition revenues, which makes our success in
admissions so vital to the College‘s financial health. The admissions effort will continue
to consume the major portion of our marketing resources and attention. While there is
much that we could recommend, more recruiters, for example, our proper focus should be
on marketing ideas that will enhance our success.

We have chosen to focus on two areas:

   1) The top college guides/rankings that influence college-bound students and their

   2) Guidance counselors, heads of school and secondary school teachers.

In addition to these two areas, we also recommend to the President a careful review of the
most significant marketing effort the College has ever undertaken, namely the NHS
Scholars Program that has been so instrumental in the College‘s recruiting during the past
decade. The task force assumes that the Strategic Planning committee will examine this
program to ensure that it, or a successor program, will continue to advance our
admissions recruiting.

College Guides/Rankings

Kevin Coveney, Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Management, has noted
that, from an admissions and recruitment perspective, college guides tend to contribute
more to confirming a student‘s choice of a college rather than influencing him or her to
apply. Still, the major college guides and rankings demonstrate a college‘s overall
success in its marketplace and cannot be ignored.

The future is uncertain for Loren Pope‘s popular book and guide, Colleges That Change
Lives, which includes Washington College. Pope is 94 years old. The guide has not been
updated in four years. The ―CTCL‖ website has been taken offline. Fortunately, it has
been replaced by the new Colleges of Distinction website and forthcoming book of the
same title, in which Washington College is profiled.

Although there is a profusion of college guide and ranking books on the market, such as
Colleges That Change Lives, two guides dominate because of the cache of their own
brand and the extensive media coverage this guarantees them. They are:

                  U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Colleges

                        The Princeton Review The Best Colleges

We suggest that Washington College focus its efforts on these two. As we climb in these
publications‘ rankings, inclusion in other college guidebooks (Barrons‘s, Fisk, Kaplan,
Yale, etc.) will eventually follow. Recognition breeds more recognition. We suggest the
following strategies for these two guides.

U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges:

Most of the data included in the U.S. News’ ranking algorithm — student retention
numbers, faculty resources, class size, selectivity in admissions, financial resources,
graduation rate performance — is beyond the ability of marketing to influence directly.

The area where we can have some influence, the peer assessment s urvey, accounts for 25
percent of the overall ranking score. Increasing this score will require a concerted effort
to reach our peers through mailings, publicity and increased visibility. Here‘s how U.S.
News describes the importance of this variable in deriving the overall ranking score

   The U.S. News ranking formula gives greatest weight to the opinions of those in a
   position to judge a school‘s academic excellence. The peer assessment survey allows
   the top academics we contact —presidents, provosts, and deans of admission — to
   account for intangibles such as faculty dedication to teaching. Each individual is
   asked to rate peer schools' academic programs on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5
   (distinguished). Those who don't know enough about a school to evalua te it fairly are
   asked to mark ―don‘t know.‖

The fact is, on average, those surveyed responded ―don‘t know‖ for 50 percent of the
schools with rankings at or near 3.0 (this includes Washington College) on the peer list,
according to Angelo Sorrentino, Assistant to the Provost for Institutional Research, who
has had conversations about this with U. S. News statistical director and editor, Robert
Morse. This suggests that among the leadership of 217 colleges in the Liberal Arts
category, more than one hundred did not know us well enough to grade us on the 1 to 5
reputation scale. This also suggests, according to Angelo, that an increased score of just
0.1 can be achieved by having as few as 11 schools increase our score by just one point
(say from a 3 to 4). The valuable insight here is that influencing this most highly
weighted variable in U.S. News & World report‘s rankings does not require us to
influence each and every one of the 217 schools. Substantial progress can be made by
targeting a smaller number.

A ―don‘t know‖ response happens for a variety of reasons — the evaluating college may
have no overlap in applications, or be far outside a college‘s geographical region or
demographic draw. A focused strategy to convert current ―don‘t knows‖ to some leve l of
positive perception of Washington College may be the fastest way to raise our
reputational score and take us higher in the rankings. By focusing each year on as few as
10 to 20 colleges that ―don‘t know‖ us, we can make real progress.

Angelo Sorrentino also points out that even a 0.1 of a point climb in our total peer
reputation score is statistically weighted so that it can translate to a three or four point
climb in the actual U.S. News rankings. Last year, our score increased by 0.1 to 2.8, a
seemingly insignificant amount until one realizes that 0.1 roughly translates into an
increase of our overall score by +0.67 (our total overall score was 52). This is not always
a certainty when weighed against the scores of all the other institutions in our category,
but it is a factor in this numbers game that we should attempt to exploit.

An effort to secure this opportunity has already taken place during the past decade,
through mailings to the presidents, provosts, and admissions directors of our 217 pee r
colleges in the survey, and through publicity in targeted academic media as The
Chronicle of Higher Education and the Annapolis Group‘s CollegeNews.org website. But
we can and should be more aggressive and proactive. Some additional ideas:

More mailings, more targeted mailings.

We suggest that the College augment its episodic mailings with a special annual
mailing(s) to the peer group, targeted to arrive in proximity to the mailed peer survey. As
this is predominately a ranking of academic reputation, we suggest that Washington
College‘s unique programs, outcomes, outstanding faculty achievements and scholarly
output be used to emphasize the academic quality of our institution. These mailings
should reflect distinctive qualities of the college in a manner that is compelling to an
academic administrator and different from the barrage of alumni magazines, postcards,
viewbooks, and annual reports that, by all accounts, never make it past the office
assistant‘s desk.

In 2003, for instance, College Relations mailed the peer list a copy of Dr. Michael
Harvey‘s publication, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing, in an envelope imprinted
with the Office of The President‘s title and with an attached WC bookmark emphasizing
three marks of WC‘s distinction. In 2004, we followed the same approach and sent the
Literary House Press‘ newest release, Browsing, a John Barth essay about libraries,
accompanied by a note from Baird Tipson and a WC bookmark. The hope was that John
Barth‘s cachet would carry more weight than a typical college publication, and the intent
was to avoid another throw-away and, instead, share something that would be of value or
appeal to the interests of today‘s academic administrators. As a result of the Browsing
mailing this year, Baird Tipson has received notes and congratulations on his recent
inauguration from various college presidents.

Academic Confe rences.

Academic reputations are made by academicians and can be shared through academic
conferences where administrators rub shoulders. This group recommends that
Washington College do more to become a known player at high- level academic
conferences for administrators, deans and admissions counselors. Washington College‘s
administrators and faculty should become more frequent presenters. A prese ntation by
one of our administrators on some unique program or educational model developed here

could identify us as a trendsetter, a college to watch, much as Dickinson has become.
Concurrently, Washington College could sponsor and host a hospitality suite, hour,
entertainment or some special function where an entourage from the College can make
the personal impressions and contacts that reinforce our distinctions and our brand.

Washington College could host its own high- level conference for college presidents
and/or deans from our peer colleges (through organizations such as the Annapolis
Group). During their visit, they are a captive audience and have opportunity to enjoy
experiences that will leave them with a positive impression of the Washington Colle ge.

Phi Beta Kappa.

Washington College is closer than ever to gaining a PBK chapter. If we succeed, we
should use this ―bounce‖ to help expand our reputation through a coordinated series of
communications to our peer list. We might also sponsor a yearlo ng celebration by hosting
a series of lectures and academic events involving presidents and provosts of regional
PBK institutions, a further means of enhancing our peer reputation score.

Princeton Review’s The Best 357 Colleges and The Best Mid-Atlantic Colleges

The Princeton Review uses statistical data on a school‟s selectivity in admissions,
assigning each school an “Admissions Selectivity Rating,” and average SAT scores and
HS GPAs of incoming students. In addition, current students, recent graduates, faculty
and administrators are surveyed annually via an online form about their schools‟
academics and teaching, student body make-up and campus social life. From this
statistical information and the subjective evaluations, colleges are chosen for profiling in
Princeton Review‟s annual guide. According to Princeton Review, institutional profiles
are updated on a three- year schedule.

Although Washington College was not included in the The Best 357 Colleges guide, we
were selected for The Princeton Review‘s new college guide, The Best Mid-Atlantic
Colleges, released in August 2003. College Relations cannot influence the selectivity data
and statistics, but we can launch a sustained marketing program to encourage current
students, alumni, faculty and administrators to participate in Princeton Review‘s annual
online survey and report their positive experiences and impressions of the College.

We cannot predict what anyone will write or report, and the surveys do include questions
about sensitive topics such as drug and alcohol use, but we can put our ―best foot
forward‖ by soliciting the participation of those students most actively and positively
engaged with the college. Targeted students should include athletic teams (particularly
those with successful seasons), sororities and fraternities (ODK and Pan-Hellenic
Council), Society of Junior Fellows members, Sigma Xi, and Dean‘s List honorees.

In addition to raising our visibility with the Princeton Review of the 357 Best Colleges,
we should monitor its on- line admission tool that provides projections to students as to
the fit and likelihood of acceptance to specific colleges based on data and profile

information provided by the student. A recent experiment in inputting various data
resulted in outcomes not always favorable to Washington College. For example, when
data was entered that was a very close match of our actual average freshman class profile,
and we specified Maryland colleges only, the resulting report did not designate
Washington College as a ―good fit.‖ We need to understand how these tools work and
how they can be influenced.

Guidance counselors, heads of schools and secondary school teachers

Private and public high-school guidance counselors, heads and teachers are often the first
and primary source for admissions information for college-bound students. They are the
interpreters and filters and need quick access to information that helps students target
their college applications and maximize their chances of admission.

Ideas to enhance the College‘s reputation with this group include:

      Implement a guidance counselor page on the College website with quick and
       easy access to the following information:

               -- Admissions Statistics
               -- Scholarships & financial aid, emphasizing the Washington Scholars
               -- Application materials, schedule & deadlines
               -- Overlap information with competitor schools
               -- Distinctive academic & co-curricular programs

      Regularly publicize the URL through personal contact from our admissions and
       periodic electronic postcards and mailings, using new programs, scholarships,
       academic distinctions, athletic programs, etc. as the news content of these

Priority decision:
     Commitment to implementing a new strategy for USNWR and Princeton Review

Major new cost implication:
    Staffing required to implement the plan

The faculty’s contribution to marketing
Faculty make an indispensable contribution to the marketing of Washington College
through their teaching and scholarship, their publications and books, their attendance at
national and international conferences, and most important, their commitment to creating
close, mentoring relationships with their students.

The committee applauds the recent increase in faculty output of scholarly books and
writings and their increasing frequency of appearance in the editorial pages and on the
broadcast airwaves of the nation‟s leading media. Whether their increased presence is the
result of intention or serendipity, we exhort the faculty to sustain and advance this level
of scholarly output and media visibility.

The College must do everything within its power to promote and support the faculty‟s
role in marketing the College. To that end, we suggested the following:

      Faculty should be visibly rewarded for their academic publications as well as
       publications in broader media. The College, for example, might sponsor a
       campus-wide reception to honor particularly notable accomplishments such as
       book publications.

      The College website could be used more effectively in promoting the faculty to a
       variety of audiences by establishing a regular feature on the college home page
       entitled "Meet the Faculty," in which an individual faculty member would be
       profiled on a rotating basis. The faculty member could discuss ongoing research,
       teaching philosophy, and work done with students. If a way were found to ensure
       timely replies, we could invite site visitors, prospective applicants especially, to
       ask the faculty member questions.

      The college website should feature on the homepage a "Seek an expert" link that
       would specify topics about which faculty members are experts and provide their
       contact information.

      While the college website includes links to op-eds or journal articles that are
       written by faculty members, we recommend where possible that the site also
       include the full text of such pieces, in addition to the links. Such content is more
       likely to be picked up in larger engine searches on the internet and will bring
       more people to the college website.

      The College should annually produce a booklet of faculty-authored articles and
       essays to be distributed to important audiences such as trustees, donors, alumni,
       faculty recruits and to the “boast” list of College presidents, provosts and
       admissions directors who influence academic rankings, suc h as U.S. News &
       World Report.

      The College should consider borrowing the model of the Teaching Company,
       which promotes the great professors series on CD and video. We could create our
       own CD, perhaps annually, featuring lectures and spoken writings of leading
       Washington College faculty, and distribute it as a cultivation and/or thank you
       tool for use with trustees, donors, alumni and friends.

      To extend the College‟s reputation to the broader academic world, faculty should
       be encouraged and supported to attend and present papers at their own discipline-
       specific conferences, as well as participate in conferences that touch on broader
       themes in academia or address pedagogical matters. Additionally, faculty and
       departments, especially the College‟s Centers of Excellence, should be
       encouraged to host academic conferences at Washington College.

      Another use of faculty in marketing might be through the development of a
       coordinated advertising campaign featuring faculty, should the College choose to
       make that investment.

      To encourage the widest support of the faculty for the success of the College‟s
       marketing efforts, we recommend that President Tipson consider the value of a
       presentation to the faculty that details the marketing task force‟s recommendation
       and solicits their feedback and support.

Priority decisions:
     How will the College recognize and reward faculty contributions to advancing the
        College‘s reputation through their scholarship and advancement of ideas, both
        through scholarly publishing and through respected mass media?

Major new cost implication:
    Resources and policies to support faculty in their scholarly efforts

The role of athletics in marketing
Intercollegiate sports at the Division III level are one of the purest examples of what
college sports were intended to be. Unlike in Division I, where sports teams play an
outsized role in shaping a university‘s image and brand (think Notre Dame), in the
context of branding Washington College, athletics offer fewer opportunities to build
brand awareness and equity. Nonetheless, there are opportunities — in many circles, we
are known for lacrosse, crew and tennis, for example — and we need to make the most of

Despite the success of the athletics department and its teams, it is our judgment that
Washington College athletics, and by extension Washington College, would benefit from
a more systematic, consistent and methodical marketing effort that focuses on both team
accomplishments and individual successes. The goals of this program should be to build
awareness of the College and its athletics program, spotlight and recognize the
accomplishments of individuals and teams, especially in those sports with the greatest
admission and development impact, and engage our constituencies, especially students,
their families, alumni and prospective students. We are not advocating a Division I
commercialization model that is driven by building revenues at the expense of the
student-athlete experience. We are advocating using our 18 varsity sports as a way to
build our brand and appeal in the marketplace.

We recommend that sports branding of Washington College focus on the following:

      The College needs to articulate a clear strategy about the role of intercollegiate
       athletics at Washington College. As intercollegiate athletics evolves and
       transforms at all levels, this exercise becomes vitally important. Some liberal arts
       colleges have moved to cut costs and fold athletics programs. Others are
       expanding. While Washington College in recent years has been a perennial
       contender in certain sports, most notably lacrosse and tennis, we have not been
       consistently competitive in others, such as soccer or basketball. In fact, in the
       annual Division III rankings of the most competitive and successful athletics
       programs nationally, we regularly fall in the bottom half, while schools such as
       Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall and Middlebury stand at or near the front. These
       schools have made the decision to emphasize Division III sports as an integral
       aspect of their identities. Other than in lacrosse, for which we are best known, it is
       not clear that Washington College has defined the role athletics should play in
       shaping its brand. The appropriateness of the recommendations that follow will
       depend on how the College answers that question.

      We should conduct a thorough marketing analysis of the contribution of
       individual sports to our admissions recruitment and our alumni relations and
       development efforts. For example, do we have a higher admissions yield among
       lacrosse applicants than basketball applicants? Do we have higher net tuition
       revenue from students on the sailing team than from students on the baseball
       team? Are lacrosse alumni different from soccer alumni in their financial support

    of the College? Further, before we add or eliminate any sport, we should evaluate
    the marketing impact of the decision. At least part of any decision about athletics
    should be predicated on how a sport will aid us in achieving institutional goals.
    The addition of sailing a few years ago was done, in part, in recognition of the
    sport‟s potential to bring us more full-pay students (as well as its fulfillment of
    our locational advantages). Since maximizing net tuition revenue remains a
    primary goal, we should evaluate what other sports, existing and e xpansion, have
    the potential to help us meet this goal. In the final determination, these non-sports
    factors may play only a contributory role in any decision we make about athletics,
    but we should fully understand these factors nonetheless.

   Athletic facilities and physical plant need to be upgraded and improved on a
    routine, rather than exceptional basis. The expansion and upgrade of Kibler Field
    is a most welcome development, but the College needs to do more. Cain Athletic
    Center is old and outdated, badly in need of refreshing. Prospective student-
    athletes and their parents who visit Washington College may note the
    inconsistency of a College that has won three national championships in recent
    years, yet offers athletic facilities that cannot compete with many of its Division
    III peers. In fact, many of the athletic recruits to Washington College enjoy better
    athletic facilities at their high schools than what currently exist at Washington

   Given the visibility and brand awareness that can result from regular coverage in
    the sports pages of newspapers, staffing for the College‟s sports information
    function is both justified and in need of an increase. Compared to many Division
    III schools, especially those in the Centennial Conference, Washington College is
    understaffed in this function. Today, there is a single person who handles all
    communications and promotions, including everything required by NCAA rules
    as well as the communications needs of 18 varsity sports. This same person
    completes all updates on the website and all statistical reports required by the
    conference. These responsibilities are overwhelming and leave no time for other
    important activities, such as the recommendations that follow.

   Our athletic successes should be promoted more broadly. We should take all that
    is successful about our athletic department — both team and individual
    accomplishments — and promote those stories to media, parents, alumni and the
    campus. Further, we should develop a media profiles and guides for each team
    and team member for use with students‟ home town newspapers, publications that
    cover Centennial Conference sports and internet sites. Making more regular
    contact with these media outlets is a productive way to advance awareness of
    Washington College. Increased staffing would also facilitate increased web
    content about sports and athletics on the College web site.

   With proper promotion, sporting events can more fully engage alumni in the life
    of the College. The athletic department and the alumni office should work to
    increase opportunities to host alumni at sporting events in cities where our teams

       compete, in both conference and non-conference play. Selection of teams for non-
       conference matches should be based, in part, on the opportunity to reach College
       alumni in markets where we do not ordinarily compete, such as New York,
       Washington, D.C. and Florida.

      While sponsorship opportunities in Division III sports are far fewer than Division
       I, we should explore such revenue generators as naming rights, exclusive product
       rights and advertising. Sponsorships could also enable us to create events and
       tournaments that can extend our brand and create opportunities to build
       relationships with key audiences.

      The College magazine should expand content and co verage of the College‟s
       athletics program and teams, and increased content should be created for the

      The Shoremen Club represents an unrealized development and alumni relations
       opportunity. Proper promotion and development of the club could build greater
       alumni support for athletics and for the college in general. The College should
       evaluate the potential development return on hiring a full or part-time director for
       the club.

      Merchandising of college athletic apparel is insufficient, particularly athletic wear
       available for purchase online from the College bookstore. Given the limited sales
       hours of the bookstore, we should take advantage of sporting events, particularly
       well attended ones such as the “War on the Shore,” to sell college logo prod ucts
       to attendees who have a desire but no opportunity to purchase apparel and
       products bearing the College name.

      We should evaluate the “fan experience” at sporting events and identify ways to
       build greater brand awareness and alumni and parent involvement through athletic

Priority decision:
     Defining the future role and contribution of athletics

Major new cost implications:
    Costs of possible additional sports
    Upgrades to College athletic facilities on the main campus and on the waterfront
    Staffing for increased sports promotion

The College logo and logo product merchandizing
A logo is the cornerstone of any marketing effort for every business or organization, big
or small is the logo. Not only is it the most important graphic element used in marketing;
it is also the fountainhead for every piece of communication the organization produces.
College brochures, the website, tee shirts, athletic uniforms, environmental signage, and
advertising all find their foundation in the logo. Because the logo is so fundamental to
the branding process, the task force recommends that Washington College consider
evolutionary changes to its current logo.

      Our current logo, while a significant improvement over the previous version,
       could be made even stronger with some modest design refinements. We are not
       suggesting a major revision, one that might cost considerable dollars, but rather a
       subtle evolution of the existing marker.
      A graphic standards manual should be developed, establishing clear rules for logo
       usage, as well as the creation of all printed and electronic materials.
      The College should designate an individual, most likely the chief marketing
       officer or the senior designer on the College Relations staff, to review all graphic
       design, from brochures to truck signage, to determine compliance with the
       graphic standards manual.
      We should evaluate if the current tagline, “The first college chartered in the new
       nation,” continues to serve our brand. Some task force members expressed a
       preference for the line, “Educating leaders since 1782.”

Once the logo is finalized, we need to increase its visibility through expanded
merchandizing of college logo products:

      College apparel is a major branding device for colleges. The current inventory of
       logo products available through the College bookstore is limited and not always
       done well. The College bookstore should conduct an audit of branded college
       items to assess what is selling well, and should also assess what is selling well at
       other colleges. Additionally, the senior designer in the College Relations, or at
       external designer, should work with the Bookstore to assure that all logo
       executions and representations of the Washington College name are consistent
       with our branded image. Some logo products currently available are not.

      The College must come to regard logo merchandise not just as a revenue
       generator, but as a marketing tool. The more logo merchandise we can put in the
       marketplace, the higher the awareness and visibility of the College. Current
       pricing of logo merchandise at the College bookstore often discourages purchase,
       and this, combined with our bookstore‟s limited hours of operation, defeats
       widespread distribution of our logo products. We recommend that the College
       consider lowering prices on logo apparel, or at the very least, lowering prices on a
       limited set of most popular logo items. What we lose in revenue we will gain in
       increased exposure. Additionally, we suggest that the bookstore reconsider its

       current charges for shipping and handling, which at a minimum of $7, further
       discourages purchase.

      The College should create a branded direct mailer, printed and electronic, that
       promotes College apparel to alumni, students and parents. Mailers should be done
       seasonally and a holiday gift catalogue is especially important.

      The College web site should serve as an electronic storefront for selling college
       logo merchandise. It is essential that this storefront not only reinforce branding,
       but that it affect the sophisticated look and feel of successful retailers such as the
       GAP, J. Crew, Abercrombie and others.

      If logo apparel is designed well and reinforces college branding, it is a good
       investment to give it away occasionally. It should be given to major donors, VIP
       visitors, visiting lecturers, high-school guidance counselors, journalists who visit
       the campus, and alumni at parties and events.

      The College must create a standardized, highly readable logo decal for placement
       on automobiles. The decals now available are often unreadable and ugly. Further,
       the College should distribute these decals as widely as possible, since they serve
       as a free marketing tool, to alumni, students and parents. One possibility is to
       include a college decal with all thank you notes to donors. Another is to distribute
       these decals at all alumni events.

      We should promote and expand the College license plate program in Maryland
       through outbound e- mail, web promotion and advertising in the College
       magazine, and consider the feasibility of expanding the license plate program to
       other states with a large concentration of Washington College alumni
       (Delaware?). The license plate program is a ripe opportunity for exposure for
       Washington College, but it has been neglected and under-promoted.

Priority decisions:
     Agree to review and revise College logo
     Define an expanded purpose for college logo merchandising
     Empower a chief marketing officer to control all representations of the College
        logo and College name

Major new cost implication:
    Possible reduced revenue from College bookstore as a result of reducing prices on
       logo merchandise

The role and value of research
Research, when properly applied, can provide valuable guidance in decision-making,
especially about decisions that are critical to the College‘s well being. The College has
used the discipline of research too sparingly in the past, and what little research the
College has commissioned seems to be shared too narrowly among administrative
departments. Whomever the College designates to serve as the chief marketing officer
should be responsible for ensuring that major institutional decisions are informed by
research, and that all institutional research relevant to marketing is widely and freely
shared among senior administrators (and the board, as appropriate). College Relations,
for example, must understand the implications of admissions research since it is charged
with developing admissions materials. Alumni Relations must have access to information
from the Provost‘s Office on student outcome surveys of recent graduates. Washington
College needs to establish a marketing culture across all administrative functions that
encourages decision- making based on insights gained from research.

As Washington College ramps up its marketing efforts, we need developmental tools as
well as gauges and feedback loops to measure effectiveness, to fine-tune, or even shift
strategy and tactics. At this early planning phase, the following are some suggested
methods that we might employ depending upon our strategy, tactics, and budget. Some of
these methods are inexpensive, some quite expensive. We await the full and approved
marketing plan before suggesting which of these tools should be implemented. The only
exception is the further analysis of secondary data that we already possess, whic h should
be mined constantly for insights.

Positioning and messaging: qualitative research

One of the greatest challenges in any marketing campaign is to develop the positioning
and the messages that communicate positioning most effectively. Issues we need to
address include:

      What should be the position that we communicate?
      Is our positioning statement compelling?
      Is the message appropriate for Washington College?
      Does it resonate with the audiences we seek to reach?
      Is it distinctive from our competitors in positive ways?
      Does Washington College fulfill the message‟s promise?
      How does our positioning stack up in our competitive set, that is, colleges which
       we regularly compete for students?
      What are the best channels to communicate this message?

Our goal in this phase of research is to identify the right positioning and messages. What
if the message were “education for leadership,” for example? Does this give us a
competitive edge in attracting students? Does it resonate with our targets? Is this message
appropriate for us? Do we currently fulfill this brand promise? What must we do in terms
of curriculum and opportunities outside the classroom to strengthen the match between

our message and reality? Are there any risks in this message? This initial phase of
research is normally undertaken via qualitative methods such as focus groups and in-
depth interviews. This might include focus groups with prospective students, their
parents, current Washington College students and faculty, and college advisors at
secondary schools.

Benchmarking and tracking: qualitative research

Quantitative research is appropriate for pre-campaign and post-campaign measurement to
establish levels of awareness and knowledge about Washington College among key
constituencies and geographic markets. What are our strengths and weaknesses in their
minds? What percentage of our target market is aware of Washington College and at
what level of detail? We possess some benchmark data from the Art and Science Group
study. While it may be dated by a few years, the research contains information that is still
useful. Benchmarking surveys are generally expensive, but are useful in setting a
baseline against which we can measure our progress in the future. An example of this
type of survey, conducted for Rutgers University, is available at:


Given the expense, this type of research may not be appropriate for the level of marketing
campaign we are planning, but we include it as an option to inform the overall marketing

Mining secondary research

Washington College already subscribes to a number of syndicated research sources. We
need to inventory what we now have in various departments of the college and evaluate
and synthesize what we have already collected. We also have U.S. News and World
Report information and access to other public data bases, such as The Education Trust.
Responsibility for the management of secondary research data should continue to reside
with the Assistant to the Provost for Institutional Research, but the College‟s chief
marketing officer should play an active role in identifying marketing-relevant information
and in disseminating that information across administrative departments.

Communications audit

Another research tool, the communication audit, is useful in assessing the effectiveness of
specific communication pieces, such as student recruitment materials. Audits can be done
either in the development stage, before a brochure is developed, for example, or after, to
determine how effectively it worked. They can be done in person, through focus groups,
or on- line. A communications audit asks such questions as: Are our communica tions
clear and consistent with our messaging objectives? Are they distinctively Washington
College? Is the design of our materials consistent? Do our materials appear to be part of
the same “family?” Is the timing of their distribution right in terms of the decision-
making process?

Satisfaction/retention research

We should continually evaluate our success in satisfying our students. While raw
numbers may seem to suffice — how many students did we admit, how many did we
graduate four years later — the most valuable information requires more subtle
approaches. Our comparatively weak performance in retention and attrition suggest that
we need to know more about why students leave us or fail. While some knowledge about
this is collected through exit interviews conducted by the Provost‟s Office, we have seen
no systematic reporting and analysis that yields actionable insights on what the College
must do to achieve a better outcome. Conversely, we need to understand more fully those
qualities of the College that are most satisfying to students, so that we may strengthen
and expand them. This research can be accomplished through online and written surveys,
or through focus groups and individual interviews.

“Dashboard” measure ments for long-term tracking

By establishing pre-campaign benchmarks, many of which we already know (such as
number of applications received), we can monitor across time the impact and
interconnectedness of our marketing program. While much of this tracking is done
already, the results are usually isolated to individual administrative departments, and not
assessed from a holistic perspective that might allow us to glean insights about the
relationship among various benchmarks, such as how admissions yields effect graduation
rates and later, alumni giving. We recommend that a report be developed annually that
records and analyzes our progress across the following measures:

       Number of applicants
       Average GPA and SAT of applicants and matriculants
       Number and percent of applicants from private schools
       Number and percent of male applicants
       Number and percent of minority applicants
       Number and percent of applicants outside of Mid-Atlantic
       Average net tuition revenue
       Number of states and nations represented in student body
       Number of legacy applicants
       Number of Maryland Distinguished Scholars enrolled
       Number of National Merit Scholars enrolled
       U.S. News & World Report ranking
       Win/loss rate among overlap admitted applicants with key competitors
       4 year and 5 year graduation rate
       Number of graduating seniors receiving competitive fellowships (Fulbrights, etc)
       Attendance at reunion weekend
       Alumni participation rate and amount contributed to annual fund
       Volume of college logo products sold
       Number of donors and annual fundraising totals

       Visitors to College web site and average time spent
       3-year moving average of number of books published by our faculty
       Number of substantive references to Washington College in national media

Additionally, we recommend the identification of a cohort group of colleges for purposes
of comparing and measuring our progress. This cohort group should consist of a select
number of colleges that represent three categories:

   1) Colleges that are most like us as measured across a broad range of institutional
   2) Colleges that are gaining on us as measured by advancing institutional indicators.
   3) Colleges to which we aspire to be a peer.

While we do not seek to copy any of these colleges, but rather to be our distinct self,
regular comparison to a like group upon which we have all agreed will serve to keep us
externally focused and fully aware of our competitive environment.

Priority decision:
     When and how to use research in making strategic decisions and in measuring our
        marketing progress

Major new cost implications:
    Cost of research
    Staffing to support research activity

President’s Marketing Task Force

Kevin O‟Keefe ‟74

Staff Representatives:

John Buettner
Kevin Coveney
Adam Goodheart
Meredith Davies Hadaway
Elizabeth Herman
Joseph Holt
Ted Knight
Dr. Bryan Matthews
Nancy Nunn

Board Representative:
Dr. Mark A. Schulman „67

Visiting Committee
John B. Gilden „87

President‟s Advisory Council Representatives:

Benjamin H. Johnson
Anthony Weir

Faculty Representatives:

Dr. Terrence H. Scout
Dr. Melissa Deckman

Alumni Representative:

Peter Shafer III „86

The task force gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Greg Waddell who provided
administrative support for this effort.


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