Driven to Discover operates with less

The University of Minnesota advertising campaign will see its budget cut in half for the next three years.

by Taryn Wobbema

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs Driven to Discover marketing budget, set up to spread the word about the institutionâÄôs research, has been cut in half for the next three years. A greater need for private giving and University polls showing the positive effects of the campaign have saved it from any talk of a deeper cut, University spokesman Dan Wolter said. But budget constraints have forced the $2 million allowed each year, since it began in 2006, to be cut by 50 percent. Television advertisements were abandoned last year, and now University Relations plans to take an even more targeted approach, rather than a mass marketed approach. Wolter added that the âÄúchallenging timesâÄù require a heavier reliance on private donors, bringing the need âÄúto more strongly than ever make the case for a research university.âÄù A 2007 University poll showed increases in the percentage of Minnesotans who felt more favorable about the University and believed in its research efforts. The poll also showed that 67 percent of âÄúopinion leadersâÄù felt more connected to the University. While specific plans for the revamped marketing campaign have not been made, Driven to Discover targets individuals whose personal qualities, such as news-attentiveness and education level, indicate they could potentially donate to the University or speak well of it while interacting with elected officials, Wolter said. Typically, familiarizing the public with a universityâÄôs research work is much more challenging than highlighting its educational value. The UniversityâÄôs role as the stateâÄôs only public research institution makes advertising its accomplishments more important, Wolter said. Pushing information about the UniversityâÄôs attractive academic qualities falls more to the Office of Admissions, the goals of which currently include drawing more students from outside of Minnesota. In December, Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, told the Board of Regents about plans to target students in cities throughout the Midwest, including St. Louis, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. McMaster said recruiting nationally would offset an expected decline in Minnesota high school graduates, increase geographic diversity on campus and bring more talent to the state. It also noted that the tuition rate for nonresident students is $2,000 higher than that of in-state students.