Campaign illustrates

Jessica Kimpell

Attitudes in regard to the University are changing for the better.
During the last three years, the University of Minnesota Foundation’s annual radio campaign has been one of the factors responsible for the increase in student involvement and the subsequent upswing in positive opinions.
This year’s campaign, “A World of Opportunities. More Personal Attention. Get to Know the Real U,” supports numerous University programs and helps students become more aware of the resources and opportunities available to them.
“The positive publicity for the University is representative of the excellence of its achievements, and for students to be acquainted with the knowledge that things have changed from the past is a laudable goal,” said Tom Garrison, communications director of the Alumni Association.
Feedback from students has helped to reinforce the campaign. A 1997 survey from the Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Athletics revealed that 81 percent of University freshmen viewed their experience as positive. In fact, 51 percent said they “like” the University and 30 percent said they “love” it.
Exemplary of these student-oriented improvements is the fact that registration today is far more efficient.
The Office of Institutional Relations reports that 90 percent of Twin Cities campus students register online, compared to the tedious long-line registration system of the past.
Seventy-one percent of students in 1991 said institutional relations, were all too familiar with being “sent from office to office for information or approvals.” The percentage of frustrated students dropped to 39 percent in 1997, institutional relations reported.
“Improvements (at the University) can be seen by students, staff and alumni through personal experiences, but the general public that is not around on campus needs to know that the University is a different place than when they may have attended,” said Tom de Ranitz, director of the marketing campaign from institutional relations at the University.
The campaign also emphasizes the fact that current students are taking advantage of existing University programs.
In 1997, 10,501 students used the Office of Special Learning Opportunities to locate internships and other field learning experiences; in 1986 only 1,089 students used the service.
Also in 1986, only a small number of students participated in mentoring programs with University alumni. In 1996, however, 1,200 undergraduate students were involved in group or one-on-one alumni mentoring programs.
Beth Mize, a College of Liberal Arts sophomore, said the campaign messages are not only appropriate for students at the University, but also for prospective students. The radio ads “address the common apprehension that the U of M is too large and that students will just be a number,” said Mize.
She said the campaign helps elucidate the University’s focus on becoming more attentive to student needs.
Along these lines, the campaign’s radio spots highlight new and more personal programs that have been created at the University within the last year.
University Dining Services offers an opportunity for parents to order birthday cakes that can be delivered to students living in the residence halls.
The Office of Housing and Residential Life assembled a “Parent Oasis” area during this year’s residence hall move-in day. The “Oasis” served food and beverages for family and friends helping students move in.
Promotion of the University’s residential programs, which continue to expand and provide students with opportunities to construct close-knit communities of students with similar interests, is another facet of the campaign.
To make the University more user-friendly, in 1998, Parking and Transportation Services created a drive-up/walk-up information center to assist visitors and new students with directions and information about the campus.
The campaign itself is produced pro bono by Carmichael Lynch and is broadcast on WCCO, WLTE, KSTP AM, KQQL (“KOOL 108”) and several other markets in greater Minnesota. The radio spots began in February and will run until April 25.
Previous campaign themes have highlighted undergraduate experiences and University research achievements.