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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2018

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School Poll Finds Mixed Self-Image

By PAULINA KOSTUROS

The University of Mary Washington needs a more clearly defined and publicized personality, said Educational Marketing Group consultant Bob Brock in an open campus presentation after seeing the recently-released results of UMW’s marketing survey.

The survey, announced on Jan. 24, sought to identify and quantify internal perceptions regarding UMW’s greatest strengths, weaknesses, core values, and personality traits, according to Associate Vice President of University Relations George Farrar.

At the beginning of the semester, President Rick Hurley called on faculty, staff, students and alumni to answer questions regarding the way the University of Mary Washington is perceived. The survey was open until Feb. 4 and received 2,463 responses.

The various questions asked participants to rank UMW in comparison to other universities like William and Mary, James Madison, University of Richmond and Christopher Newport.

In addition to comparing UMW to other universities, participants overall ranked a university’s academic reputation as the most important quality when recommending a college to a friend or family member.

Overall, UMW is perceived in a positive light with the strengths of, “student focus, small classes, and quality of the campus.”

However, some of the top weaknesses listed were the poor administrative services, “lack of vision,” and “weak public reputation.” Lack of diversity was also listed in the top ten.

Sophomore Calvin Robinson was not surprised by the results and felt that UMW solely tries to focus on diversity.

“I agree with the weaknesses,” Robinson said. “It seems like everyone’s focus is on diversity. I think the school should work on their weaknesses as a whole instead of just that one specific problem.”

Brock addressed the results in an open campus presentation on Mar. 17.

“We have to define the leadership position,” he said of UMW. “What we are talking about is not the logo or slogan. A brand goes a whole lot deeper. It’s an idea or concept.”

In response to the results, he said, “UMW has a motivated community but public awareness is limited. The leadership needs to be solidified.”

Brock suggested creating a unique identity for UMW through publications and the website in which a personality is defined. He also suggested increasing annual investment in marketing and communications.

According to the results, most people believe when compared to other universities, William and Mary is the, “market leader in overall reputation and hands-on learning.”

Responses to the survey suggested hands-on learning is less associated with the UMW brand.

However, participants ranked UMW the highest for the quality of education for the cost.

Survey results also revealed “internal audiences” ranked UMW as performing better than CNU and JMU in many of the quality attributes tested.

Participants did not view CNU as competitive in any of the quality categories and ranked JMU as, “somewhat more competitive in all categories except small classes taught by faculty.”