Motivated by a drop in minority applications after the University’s race-conscious admissions policies were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the University is creating more programs geared toward minorities.
The University is now focusing its efforts on polishing its reputation among minority students, which was tarnished by its unsuccessful defense of its admissions policies, Chris Lucier, associate director of undergraduate admissions, said.
To attract minority students, the new programs aim to give students an in-depth look at University life by offering interaction with University faculty and guided tours.“Our goal is to re-enforce what the University’s mission is and what we stand for. We offer opportunity, diversity and elite education. We stand for opportunity and excellence,” Lucier said.
Due to these renewed efforts to boost minority enrollment, this is the first year the University is running a radio advertisement, which is airing in the four cities from which most minority students hail: Detroit, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Grand Rapids. The radio ads are designed to boost minority applications, Lucier said.
But Holly Wissinger, director of News and Public Information at Miami University, said it’s difficult to advertise a large institution such as the University, because it is already well-known, for example, because of its athletics and name recognition.“A small college is good to commercialize. A lot of it depends on what kind of market they’re trying to reach,” Wissinger said.
Since Michigan is already a well-known institution, Lucier said the radio ads are a way to target a more distinct group of people.
But Lucier also said the University has yet to learn how effective the ads are, since it will be not known until all of this year’s applications are received. Michigan is also trying to promote itself through direct interaction as well.
“We visit 500 high schools within just the state of Michigan each year,” Lucier said. “So we will be most effective through direct contact rather than advertising, since we make the effort in getting involved with our potential students.”
In an effort to reach the black community, University President Mary Sue Coleman spoke at “A Heritage of Healing” program in Kalamazoo. This program allowed a dialogue with Coleman allowing the many students and parents in attendance to have their questions about the University answered personally. This Sunday, Coleman will also be attending “Wolverine Day at Hartford” in Detroit, which offers the president another opportunity to connect with high school students interested in Michigan.
In early December, the University also organized a program called “Pursuit of Excellence,” where over 500 students and parents participated in an orientation program. Around this same time, the “Slice of Life” program allowed students to experience how it would feel to be a true University student by spending the day with a current University student.
LSA Senior, Brian Maynard, who gives tours to potential University students, said, “As a tour guide, I think that the orientation programs Michigan has to offer are the most appealing. I don’t think any students have decisions made about Michigan when they come to visit. The tours help the impression. To be here is a gold mine,” he added, “I’m trying to be unbiased but commercialization is worthless compared to programs.”
Lucier said the commercialized part of marketing helps to get Michigan’s name in the public eye, but the programs make a long-term impression.