A Rose by Any Other Name…

Alan Finder’s NY Times article today about college branding came as no surprise to me, having  represented two top 15 business schools.  Colleges such as Beaver, Trenton State and Cal State Hayward have all changed their names in hopes of increasing enrollments, endowments and, via both, their positions in the all-important US News & World Report rankings. In fact, the US News and BusinessWeek rankings have absolutely turned college & university marketing upside down. The average person would be stunned to know how much time and emphasis is placed on rankings by college administrators.  Moving up in the polls is a red letter event, while the reverse is cause for sorrow.  While colleges are businesses, it’s sad to see how "rankings focused" they’ve become. I wonder if an increased focused on faculty and curriculum content (and strategically marketing each) might not be a smarter pursuit for the folks in higher education.

In the end, it’s about the educational experience.  Slapping a new name on the campus gates won’t mean anything unless the renaming comes with unique offerings that allow the institution to differentiate itself from the others.

2 thoughts on “A Rose by Any Other Name…

  1. Very interesting. I would hope that UK universities are taking note of what’s happening over here. I understand that rankings are important to a school’s bottom line, but a quick marketing gimmick isn’t likely to solve the problem in the long term.

  2. Here in the UK we have the all important FT higher education rankings. Intersting thing is the disparity between marketing programmes of universities in the UK compared to those in the US. As grants and scholarships are becoming more scarce here I wonder how long it will be before UK universities have to put more weight behind their marketing efforts. It’s often been said that the UK lags behind the US in terms of marketing innovation and there’s certainly a case for that agrument here. At least we’ll be able to learn from the ‘rankings chase’ mistakes hapenning on your side of the pond. Watch this space.