Volume 17 • Issue 2
Southwestern @ Georgetown

Integrated Marketing Study

— Katy Boose

How can Southwestern University better recruit students?

How can the perspectives of alumni help Southwestern better communicate its mission?

Those are just two questions the consulting firm Art & Science Group will answer as part of an integrated marketing study targeting alumni and prospective students.

Representatives from the Art & Science Group visited the campus Sept. 19 and 20, 2005, to conduct interviews with faculty, staff and students to gain an insider’s perspective of Southwestern University. They used this information to develop an alumni study and to create a responsive atmosphere. “We wanted to gain support of the campus community for the study as well as create future enthusiasm for our reports and recommendations,” says Rick Hesel, a representative of the Art & Science Group.

The next step was to interview selected alumni. A random sample of graduates generated responses from 103 graduates from 1970 and prior, 100 graduates from 1970-1989 and 100 graduates from 1990-present. The Art & Science Group also conducted qualitative interviews with selected members of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors and found extraordinary consistency between the results from alumni and members of the boards.

The group presented its initial research findings to Southwestern’s Integrated Marketing Management Committee Dec. 15, 2005. In ranking overall experience, the alumni survey reflected a mean of 8.7 on a 10-point scale with 10 being very positive. Fifty percent of these respondents gave faculty/student relationships as the primary reason for their overall satisfaction, followed by class size, campus atmosphere, quality of instruction/academic standards and size of school. “The results of the study show that alumni see their experience at Southwestern University as something that fundamentally changed their lives,” Hesel says. Art & Science reported few complaints from alumni.

The next research phase will focus on surveying prospective students to gauge their attitudes about higher education and costs. These surveys will target students admitted to Southwestern University who plan to enroll, as well as students who were admitted, but chose to attend another school. “In comparing the data from the alumni studies, we hope to determine if the same factors that motivate students to come to Southwestern University now are the same reasons that drove alumni to come to the University in the past,” Hesel says. “In addition, we hope to find out why students might choose to attend another school.”

Southwestern expects to use the results of the study to improve its communicated messages and to strengthen its recruitment position.