9/10/2004

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View Convocation PowerPoint presentation [PDF]


Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

2004 Chancellor's Faculty/Staff Convocation

Chancellor Robert Hemenway:

I want to welcome everyone here today, the 139th time we have opened the school year with a faculty convocation.

The repetitive nature of the experience begs for some kind of annual assessment of how KU is doing, what challenges we face, what this year's agenda will include.

I can begin my remarks by noting that KU, right now, September 9, 2004, is about as strong as it has ever been, judging by criteria we normally use to measure our success.

For us to simply cite our success, however, misses the point. We must find a better way to tell our story, and I believe we have found that way in an integrated marketing plan, which I will discuss later. Put simply, marketing means telling your story effectively, and the KU story for 2004 is a splendid chronicle of your accomplishments.

So let me begin by focusing on the content of the KU story for 2004.

 • Enrollment is at an all-time high
 • Research funding is at an all-time high
 • We have just reached $550 million of a $600 million capital campaign goal. Donors are saying they want to invest in KU's future.
 • KU faculty are receiving national praise for KU's academic environment
 • KU's faculty recently ranked 29th among public universities in the reputation survey in the U.S. News & World Report, and 25 KU departments ranked in the Top 25 in their discipline.
 • Finally, tuition is also at an all-time high, but so is the quality of KU's freshmen class, judged by ACT scores and GPA.

The enrollment and tuition information is worth pausing for a moment to talk about because it is a powerful part of our story that is important to understand.

In 2001, the Kansas Board of Regents asked each Regent University to submit a five-year tuition plan, which they would review annually, but which would be designed to improve significantly the quality of each university over a five-year period.

The University of Kansas submitted such a plan. It had many different parts, but it basically proposed that KU increase its tuition from $2,884 per year (2001) to somewhere around $5,800 per year by 2006, in effect, more than doubling tuition over a five-year period.

KU's tuition today, after three years of increases, is below the average of Big XII universities and below the average of AAU public universities. It is 28% below the average of land grant universities. My prediction is that when the five-year plan is complete, KU's tuition, at $5,800, will remain well below the average of public universities nationwide.

Because we have set aside 20% of the tuition increase as grants for truly needy students, KU's demographics have remained the same over the three year period, and I see no reason why that would not remain true over a five-year period. We enroll the same percentage of students from low-income families now as we did before we began the tuition plan.

As you know, the KU student body has been a strong partner of the university as the five-year plan has been implemented. KU student government has joined with the university each year as we have presented our tuition proposal. They have not been excited about paying additional tuition, but they have recognized that in these tough times, tuition increases are the key to maintaining and improving quality.

I think there are two reasons for this. KU students know where any increased tuition money will be spent because the university has sat down with them each year and reaffirmed a five-year plan for the expenditures of the tuition. For example, by the time we are finished, the tuition increase will have made possible the investment in 100 new faculty that it would be impossible to hire if it were not for the student commitment. Similarly, investments in technology mean that students now have on-line enrollment. Simply put, we have pledged to the students, "If you pay more, you will get more."

The bottom line is this, KU students have voted with their feet when queried on the value of a KU degree. They have affirmed that the quality of education that one receives at KU is well worth the cost of the increased tuition. One way to look at it is that KU tuition is below average for a public research university, but its quality is excellent, well above average. It explains, I believe, why KU's enrollment has continued to increase, despite the tuition going up, and why the quality of KU's students body continues to increase as well, as judged by standardized test scores and high school grades.

What students and faculty may be inclined to ask is this question -- why do we have to raise tuition?

There are three basic reasons. First the state of Kansas has, over the past twenty years, significantly reduced the per student expenditures of state funds for higher education.

The state has basically adopted a market place policy that public education is an individual, private benefit rather than a public good. Thus, the individual is expected to pay more of the cost of that benefit.

Second, KU"s tuition remained so low for so long, that the low tuition, when combined with the decline in state appropriations, has placed KU at a significant competitive disadvantage with other peer institutions. One only needs to look at the tuition costs of flagship universities in the surrounding states to realize the effects.

Third, KU's operating funds, because of the declining appropriations, have been so low‹on average about 60% of our competitors‹that increasingly funds for basic maintenance of facilities have had to be taken from classroom accounts to just maintain the physical plant and pay the utilities. For example, the state has provided no maintenance funds for new buildings over the past four years. To pay the utilities and keep the buildings cleaned and repaired, the money has to come from somewhere. This cost alone has been over $6 million since 2001.

KU's situation is not unique among public universities. We are part of a great public higher education system that depends on public universities to educate 75 percent of all four-year college students, grant 66% of all bachelor degrees, 75% of all doctoral degrees and 70 percent of all engineering degrees.

In Kansas, KU enrolls one-third of all students; grants one-third of all Kansas degrees, enrolls over 40% of all graduate students, and grants 70% of all doctoral degrees.

This public system has been under particular stress since the 1980s, and individual universities, like KU, have been forced to act more and more like private universities. In effect, we have tried to take the best from both public and private higher education to accomplish our mission and preserve and enhance our quality. Every year we receive $240 million from the state and leverage it into $825 million in educational goods and services. The state gets three to four dollars back for every dollar invested.

As the state has asked for more and more accountability we have borrowed a lot of management techniques from private business and private universities. KU, for example, has signed an energy management contract to implement conservation policies and cut costs. We have thus saved $2.7 million per year. We have sold bonds against that revenue stream and paid for $18 million worth of conservation improvements.

As tuition has increased, it has been tied more closely to the actual costs of education, so that now at KU, students generally pay about 50% of the cost of educating themselves, and out of state students actually subsidize in-state students education by about 20%.

The point to all of this is that the university is an organism ever-adapting to its environment, taking the best techniques from both major public universities and increasingly from private universities.

Which brings me to the major point of this address. We have adapted well to difficult conditions. We have achieved success that is quite remarkable under the circumstances.

A growing percentage of KU's revenue, just like a private university, comes from non-government sources, including tuition and fees, room and board, private gifts, grants and contracts, intellectual property, and the like.

Yet we remain a public institution with a public mission, grounded in teaching, research and service, even as reduced state funding makes it difficult to fulfill that mission.

With these challenges in mind, it's important that our many audiences hear a clear and consistent message from us. We cannot be silent, nor can we risk speaking to the wider world in a Babel of contradictory voices. With funding and staffing as tight as they are, we also cannot afford to squander our resources on messages that have no impact. We have to tell our story, tell it well, and tell it economically.

So, let's talk about integrated, strategic marketing. If someone gave you a ream of paper and this simple message, "Go Jayhawks!," how would you communicate it to the people of Kansas?

You could write the message once on each sheet of paper, and hand it out on street corners until you ran out of copies. That would reach 500 passersby, some of whom might keep the sheet and even read the message on the way to the nearest wastebasket.

Or we could take that ream of paper, shred it into confetti, and use a tiny pencil to write "Go Jayhawks!" on every single piece. Then, when we're done, we could drop this mass of messages from an airplane and reach, say, 5,000 people for a total of, say, five minutes. They might be impressed by the show and the glitz, but they wouldn't get our message and we might be jailed for littering.

If you were wise, you'd take that same ream of paper, tape all the sheets together, and make a banner out of it. In letters six feet high, hanging in some strategically prominent location -- such as the Capitol Dome or the rafters of Allen Fieldhouse – you'd convey that one, simple statement to the people you truly want to reach, with dramatic impact, and over a longer period of time.

There's a message in this parable. For too long, KU and other universities like us have tended to communicate randomly via handouts and confetti. We've created promotions rather than strategic marketing. What we really need is a "banner" -- a conscious, unified effort aimed at conveying a stronger message in a more powerful way to the selected audiences we truly need to reach.

Integrated marketing

During the past year, KU has been working to develop and implement an integrated marketing plan. We've involved many of you in this process, and we've had an excellent consultant, Christopher Simpson, former Vice President for University Relations at Indiana and Oregon. The process has led to certain conclusions. We know we have a good university here. But does the public, and key audiences in that public agree with us? Too often, the answer is uncertain, and when it is, there are direct economic consequences.

We have spent nearly 140 years building a great university. Now we need to invest in better telling our success story and highlighting our excellence‹our outstanding faculty, staff, academic programs and graduates. KU faces tremendous fiscal challenges, as I have described, but marketing can help us clarify our image and cite our reputation as one of America's top public universities. If done correctly, this should help solicit support for funding.

How does integrated marketing work? Basically, KU is implementing a plan that follows six fundamental steps. We need your help and advice in this effort.

Set our goals.

I. Goal: To enhance the image, reputation and visibility of KU, and better tell our success story to key constituents.

-- We want to build stronger relationships with elected officials statewide, because it is a key to more stable and consistent state funding;
-- Enhance our image and reputation among opinion leaders, statewide and in Kansas City;
-- Strengthen our recruiting efforts in-state and out-of-state; and
-- Develop an effective visual identity for the institution.

II. Audiences: We need to reach several key audiences.

-- First of all‹you. Our effectiveness in communicating outside the university will depend in part on how well we communicate within the university. Each one of you is a spokesperson for KU. KU needs your help and you will see over the next weeks our effort to ask for your help and advice in shaping and presenting the KU story. You received yesterday, communication from a group looking at internal communication at KU. I want you to know we are serious about this, and I have already received responses from a number of you. We look forward to working with governance in particular on this issue.

-- So current KU faculty, staff and students are a big part of this effort;
-- Prospective students, parents, teachers and counselors;
-- Alumni;
-- Business leaders and other opinion leaders;
-- Elected officials; and
-- The general public.

III. Research: We have conducted qualitative and quantitative research to understand the current image of KU in the eyes of these key constituents. Many of you may have already participated in one of these surveys. The data shows us how well – or not so well – these audiences understand KU's strengths. I will talk about some of these discoveries in a minute.

IV. Key messages: The preliminary research has helped us outline an emerging set of key messages, which we can adapt in all internal and external communications to better sharpen KU's image and reputation. They include a heightened focus on:
-- The outstanding quality of KU's faculty and undergraduate and graduate programs;
-- The success of our graduates, from doctors to lawyers to teachers to entrepreneurs, highlighting how they serve Kansas and their communities;
-- The strong value of a KU education, in terms of the good return students and the state get for their educational investment. Simply put, you get your money's worth at KU.
-- Another key message is a more welcoming campus environment, a theme that will require us to ensure that all visitors to KU encounter faculty and staff who are friendly, welcoming, hospitable and receptive to their needs.

V. Strategies and tactics: With key messages in hand – what makes KU unique, special and great -- we will coordinate all internal and external communications and ask that all the KU family help to better tell our success story. We know that just sending out press releases doesn't work.

VI. Evaluation: Integrated marketing is designed to be fully measurable, meaning that when our plan is implemented, we will be able to measure its effectiveness. Once the messages are out, how are they received? If certain communications strategies and tactics aren't working, we will know that and change our methods, ensuring that resources are wisely spent.

How does KU benefit from this six-step marketing effort? If we are successful in sharpening our image and reputation, and can better communicate KU's greatness to our key constituents, internally and externally, the outcomes will include:
-- A stronger, more productive relationship with state and federal government;
-- A stronger student profile that ultimately enhances the campus culture and the whole of Kansas;
-- A strong faculty that we recruit, reward and retain because our reputation for excellence – a key part of our story – depends on it; a faculty that is paid well because the public understands the value of an excellent faculty.
-- Greater utilization of loyal alumni as KU advocates in their communities, as volunteers, as donors, as legislative advocates, and as advisers to prospective students; and
-- A healthier partnership with the private and public sectors statewide to strengthen the economy of Kansas through our research, our faculty and our graduates.

What success have we had thus far?
 • We are working to change the way we communicate at KU. We have limited resources, and we want to utilize them more efficiently. Thus, we are in the process of strengthening internal and external communications, especially in University Relations. We will be hiring a new EVC of External Affairs to implement these changes. We want you to be able to get your success stories before the public.

 • We have done a great deal of research with prospective students, opinion leaders, students, alumni, and faculty and staff to learn how to improve our image and reputation. These preliminary data are helping us understand how to spend our communications resources more wisely.

 • For example, we have begun to dramatically strengthen our digital communications throughout KU. A key part of this was the hiring of Lisa White as our new Web communications manager, working closely with Marilu Goodyear and her staff.

 • We have enhanced our recruiting efforts for undergraduates by revamping our key publications, and developed "Rock Chalk Recruiters," a team of faculty and staff engaged to assist as volunteers.

 • To oversee the integrated marketing effort, we appointed David Johnston director of marketing in University Relations in July. David's work has been complemented by the efforts of nearly 100 Jayhawks in Lawrence, Edwards, Wichita and the Medical Center campus. This is a team effort, and faculty and staff are at the heart of what we are trying to accomplish.  • For example, Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett and Deb Teeter have led a Faculty-Staff Research Advisory Team that has assisted us in every step of the marketing effort. From the survey research they helped develop some very useful findings that will guide our future work.

While the results are preliminary in some cases, we now have data from our surveys:

 • Half of a sample of 200 opinion leaders in Kansas rates KU among the top 25 public universities in the nation, while 80% rate KU among the top 50.

 • The same group agrees strongly that higher education is a worthwhile use of tax dollars, and that KU enhances the reputation of the state nationally and provides students with an excellent education.

 • Some of our findings could have been predicted. Alumni remember the Campanile most fondly among all KU landmarks, and the Rock Chalk Chant most fondly among all KU traditions.

 • All audiences feel good about the Jayhawk mascot and the KU seal, but recognize the need for an additional mark for broader use.  • One response surprised us. Clearly, "The University of Kansas" is the preferred name of our university, not "Kansas University," and KU is the vastly preferred shorthand name.

 • Among prospective students, the campus visit is by far the most important source of information about a college, followed closely by a college's web sites.

 • Prospective students regard "Strong program in my area of interest," "Availability of scholarships and grants," "High job placement of graduates," "Affordability," and "Friendly people on campus" as areas of great importance when choosing a college. In each of these areas, KU gets a strong rating, but a gap remains between our perceived performance and the high level of importance to students.

 • Prospective students value friendliness above all else when describing their "fit" with a campus. Those same students give KU a good rating for friendliness, but we could do a better job of hospitality.

Visual identity

We are also engaging the services of a nationally recognized design firm to create a coordinated new visual identity system for KU, one that incorporates the existing Jayhawk mascot and university seal plus a new word mark suitable for all academic uses, stationery, signage, Web sites and other communications.

A strong, consistent visual identity enhances recognition and reputation. We live in an era in which media bombard us with visual symbols. Inconsistent use of symbols and visual identities that don't work well simply dilute the effectiveness of our communications. Developing a strong and consistent visual identity for KU that works well in all media will help differentiate KU from our competitors and reinforce our generally positive image in the mind of our audiences.

We are also looking at plans -- developed by the many KU faculty and staff involved in this initiative -- for a KU image campaign among key audiences in Kansas and the greater Kansas City metro area. We especially need to improve our web presence.

KU, like many universities, has a visual identity problem with our most important form of communications: the web. These three home pages illustrate that problem. By themselves, each example has some merit. Together, they present an often-confusing "welcome mat" to the outside world. Increasingly, visitors encounter KU for the first time through the "front door" of our websites. Yet it's hard to tell these three examples belong to the same university. Worst of all, it's difficult to navigate from site to site, and nearly impossible to find your way to the Admissions page if you're a prospective student. Our challenge is to rethink our web presence, making it a tool for discovery rather than an obstacle course. We can utilize the web more effectively.

You will hear more about all these efforts during the coming year. I encourage you to support integrated marketing in every way possible, because KU must be better known for our world-class faculty, academic programs, research endeavors and value to the state.

Marketing will help us to do this effectively, efficiently and – somewhat remarkably –at a lower cost than our past uncoordinated communications efforts.

The key to our success is you. If you are proud of what we've accomplished, let's make sure others know about it, too.

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