UI to increase recruitment efforts

BY KRISTEN BARON | JUNE 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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A Hawkeye state of mind might soon start reaching beyond Iowa City.

After the state Board of Regents approved a new performance-based revenue model, which will give funding to the three state universities primarily based on resident enrollment, the University of Iowa will make its presence known, seen, and heard throughout the state.

Joe Brennan, the UI vice president for Strategic Communication, has specific plans to recruit Iowa residents that will go into place immediately.

“Our goal is to increase visibility of the university, especially in the state of Iowa,” he said.

Of the 31,065 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in fall 2013, 16,916 were Iowa residents.

Brennan said the UI will make greater use of paid advertising, which will include a new university TV commercial.

Prospective students can also expect to see a lot more recruiting through social media.

Brennan said the UI has gotten the most response from “anything visual,” including pictures and videos on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

“We think of social media as a place to build relationships and build engagement,” he said.

This shift to online recruitment has come at a time when colleges are becoming more and more competitive, Brennan said, and students have reacted better to the shift.

“Our plans are still under development, but we want to build on methods that have been proven successful,” he said.

The UI is also taking advantage of “out of home” advertising — or marketing not in the university’s programs.

Promotions will include billboards and visual advertisements in shopping malls, ballparks, and racetracks. The first glimpses of UI advertising will be seen in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and the Quad Cities.

The UI also plans to earn more news coverage. Brennan filled staff vacancies with four new media-relations writers in order to meet this goal.

With the new funding model, 60 percent of state funding will be based on resident enrollment, 15 percent on progress and attainment, 10 percent on “access” based on diversity, 5 percent on sponsored research, 5 percent on professional and graduate students proportional to resident enrollment, and 5 percent to be customized by the regents.

“We’ve always been aggressive about recruiting residents,” UI Associate Provost Beth Ingram said.

Although an increased emphasis on recruitment has been set, officials said there will be a continued emphasis on retention and graduation rates, as well as providing an affordable education.

There are many programs in place at the UI that are aimed at first-year students, including first-year seminars, four-year graduation plans, and monetary counseling.

“The university is going to continue to give students the resources for academic success,” said Michael Barron, the UI assistant provost for enrollment management and executive director of Admissions.

Normally, colleges recruit high-school juniors and seniors, but the UI has recently started contacting high-school sophomores to get them thinking about the school.

Barron said domestic nonresidents and international-student recruitment may not receive the same push as resident recruitment, but the efforts will not be diminished in any way.

“We will make sure to contact every college-eligible high-school student in Iowa,” Barron said.

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