Michael Mayer is surely correct: “thrive” and a squiggle alone were never going to turn around the University of Montana’s enrollment issue (letter, Jan. 26). But I believe Mayer's prescription, essentially “Build it and they will come,” is incomplete.
Yes, we should maintain and build quality. But it is imperative that we also let people know about that quality, and that we demonstrate it in our interactions with prospective students.
At the time of the branding exercise I had a conversation with another UM faculty member who expressed an opinion similar to Mayer's: “We have great programs. We don’t need 'Marketing.'" (Imagine that last word said derisively.) But marketing is much more than logo design. It is about getting the word out, providing the right services, taking care of the customer. And sometimes it is about making a quiet suggestion to the right person when a problem is noted rather than shouting it from the rooftops.
Some will bristle at my talking about “customers” in academia, but “We don’t need Marketing” makes about as much sense as “We don’t need a balanced budget.” Effective marketing has an important role to play in the university’s future.