UI seeking input on better student-administration communication

BY JULIA SHRIVER | JUNE 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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While one University of Iowa communication and marketing official maintains that the institution remains in contact with the students through a variety of media sources, the most effective way at communicating with them has yet to be determined. 

The department is currently conducting a survey of UI students and staff members to gather information about how they prefer to get information from the university as well as what they would like to be informed about.  

The department sent out a mass email to all UI students enrolled in the 2012 to 2013 academic year last week, and officials have received approximately 600 responses. The survey is being conducted using Qualtics, a UI-supported private research software company, so the project is of no monetary cost.

“I think it’s essential that units across the university be able to communicate with students … I think we do a pretty good job of communicating with students before they get here during the recruitment process, [and] I think we do a pretty good job communicating with alumni,” said Lin Larson, University Communication and Marketing’s director of creative services. “We’re looking at what we might be able to do better to connect with students while they are on campus.”

The short survey takes roughly five minutes to complete and asks participants to provide basic demographic information before answering a series of questions including how often they use social media and what are the best media to contact them through. Participants are also asked to rank UI news services such as the After Class and Iowa Now news websites and other news services not provided through the university, such as the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Additionally, the survey asks students to provide feedback on what university events and services they would like to be informed about, including student-oriented events, academic programs, campus resources, and basic news.

“We want to know what channels connect with students, but we also want to know what kinds of things students want to know about,” Larson said.

Once the project has been completed, which Larson said should be by the end of the summer, the department plans to deliver recommendations about how to improve communication throughout the university.

“We will deliver some recommendations to the VP of Student Life, the VP for Strategic Communication, and the Associate for Undergraduate Communication,” Larson said.

Whether the recommendations will result in any specific projects is uncertain at this point.

“Right now, it’s very much a research project,” Larson said.

So what do UI students think about how the university communicates with its students?

For current student Lauren Sesemann, it gets an “OK” rating.

“Emergency communication isn’t great, but day-to-day communication works just fine,” she said.

UI student Tyler Cooper agrees that the UI’s departments communicate fairly well with students.

Both Sesemann and Cooper also said they get the majority of their information about what is occurring at the university through their UI email accounts.

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