The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 3 weeks ago

Authenticity: Aligning the Online Message w/ the On-Campus Feel


A university website is often families’ first look into the university itself. If you haven’t updated your website in three, six, or twelve months, then you aren’t being authentic online.

In this episode, we interview Donnell Wiggins , Associate VP for Strategic Enrollment Management & Dean of Admission at University of Dayton , about the importance of the website in communicating both authenticity and the truth that recruitment is everyone’s job.

Join us as we discuss:

- The continued importance of a four-year college experience

- Why the website matters to families so much

- Updating academic program pages to aid in recruitment

- How every staff and faculty member is a recruiter

- Diversity, inclusion, and equity as indicators of excellence

Check out this resource we mentioned:

Donnell’s TEDxDaytonSalon Talk, “Yes You Can” 

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or your preferred podcast platform. 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

You were listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to studentrecruitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies and so much more.If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry isgoing, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the high red marketerpodcast, where each week we bring interesting people within the HigherRed Marketing Community to you to share ideas and hopefully spur new things inyour world for the betterment of the community. Today I have someone Ishould say we have someone sorry Bard for kicking me to the curb. We have someone that I have been a fanof for a while he's from the University of Dayton, the city that I live inDanel wiggins, who's, the associate vice president of strategic and Romantmanagement and Dean of admission that the University of Dayton- and I firstwas introduced to this young man through a Ted x Dayton speech- that kind of wentviral locally, where he was very authentic and very passionate andshared his background with dyslexia and how thattransformed into his passion for Higher Ed and making sure that people like him.First Generation Students had people that believed in him and then, as Ifollowed him realized that he's doing great things for the university andthought he would be an excellent person to have a conversation with. So todaywe get to talk about authenticity and some other things that University ofDayton is doing here, locally yeah. I think it's a great conversation andtroy. You kind of really said it, and summarized it very well, is that theNell has a passion for, and what he's doing you can get that you can sensethat as he talks, but he also has a passion for authenticity and reallyliving out what we believe and making sure that comes out in our marketing,whether that's through our website, whether that's in the way that we, youknow, lead enrolment in the way that we lead the messaging and theconversations just everything about authenticity even down to how we liveat our beliefs. With you know, especially like a school likeUniversity of Dayton, Catholic marinist institution, many of our schools that alot of the you that are listening, the ones that I work with the Troy workswith a lot of them are faith based, and we have this belief in diversity andequity and inclusion. We believe in that done now talks a lot about how toauthentically live that out and make that a part of the campus life, and soit's a great conversation. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it. Let'sbring Danel into the conversation. It is my pleasure to welcome into thePODCAST donel wiggans associate vice president for strategic enrolmentmanagement and the dean of admissions at the University of Dayton, and I mustsay, I'm a fan of this young man he's local here. So I've seen him on socialmedia and it's a treat to have a conversation with him good, Hafternoon,Danel good afternoon shore. How are you doing today? You know I'm doing greatwe're looking forward to our conversation with you before we getinto it. Could you give us a little bit about you and your role at theUniversity of Dayton? Yes, Sir Again, my name is Don. No wiggins I serve is asocial vice president for strategic and Roman Management and den of emission,and really have the pleasure of overseeing our recruitment in themission operation at the University of Dayton for undergraduate students, bothdomestically and internationally, as well as our transfer students, and soit really is a honor and privilege to help students get to college and reallycreate a pathway for them. Whatever journey, they may be on as a first timefreshman as a transfer student. As an international student, so it is reallya honored privilege to be with you all today thanks. So now, it's wonderful to haveyou here really looking forward to our conversation. I know that when we kindof did the pre interview, we talked...

...about a number of different things, andI think that one thing that we discovered that the three of us are allfirst in students and sometimes having that in context with a lot of ourconversations important. But I think that one of the things that reallystuck out in our initial conversations with this idea of especially now thatthe pandemic has happened, and you know a lot of people are used to virtualonline. There's still this importance of beingable to really kind of sell this four year college experience the full fouryear college experience, and I think that this idea of doing that issomething that I think more and more schools have to grapple with, because Ithink we've taken it for granted honestly for so long that especiallycampuses that are traditional in that like, like ud and and other ones thathave beautiful campuses. They have the resources, they have everything online,there's so much about the importance of full, for your experience that I thinkwe don't want to miss. So tell me a little bit about your feelings on thatand how how you're, trying to o communicate that to your perspective,students yeah. Absolutely you know, I think one of the things that were atthis inflection point in higher education, where we as institutions,must ensure that we are highlighting our value proposition in a way thatconnects with families and students, and so many families are makingdecisions, not just based on those typical things that we've seen beforein the past, but they're also looking at a variety of things from a COcurricular standpoint, how, with my mental healthy, manage, how will youknow my sense of belonging come through as it pertains to a community? Manyfamilies have a variety of options. Now they have the option to maybe get acertificate, maybe get a skill or trade, and so we, as institutions must bereally diligent in terms of making sure that our communication strategy reallyaligns with the own campus experience and that's from a digital perspective.So how do we communicate digitally to our families on the web and do we dothat in the same way when they're on campus in person, and so it's soessential that we are aligning the message that we have on the web with oncampus as well? And I think it's important that we as institutionshighlight who we are not stray away from it, and so at the University ofdata, where Catholic Marines institution committed to developing thewhole person? And so we are true to that in our communication. We're trueto that when students come on campus and it's just so important that thosemessages line up really well for each other and so the four year experienceis crucial and we're at a point where you know some people don't feel likehigher education is worth it and as a fir generation college student. I canabsolutely positively tell you that higher education is worth it and we, asinstitutions have to do a better job of making sure that our value in ourmission line with our actions, particularly online, as well as inperson, that's great, and I guess I'm curious when you talk about the factthat you know the digital world has to match up with the culture of thephysical world, the real world. How do you guys do that with University ofdating? Like the website, I mean so many people. I talk about. Okay, thewebsite is the first and foremost impression that people are going tohave on your campus. I mean you know they're going to discover you throughthe web they're going to either. Then I often like to tell people that you knoweither they're going to discover you or they're going to authenticate whatthey've heard about you and if a website is in discontent with with thatof what they've heard or that of what they're expecting there's a problem. Sohow does the school? Like you D, I mean your larger institution. How do youkind of maintain that authenticity on the website absolutely well? One of the things isany time you're doing any managing of the website. You have to be diligent tomake sure that it's up to date on a regular basis and often time and manyinstitutions nobody's checking the website n'chaka website in a year. Wehaven't checked it in six months, and so it's so important that every threeto six months institutions are updated websites. Many...

...many students are using a website as afirst line of defense, and it is the first point of contact, and so not onlyis the first one of contact, but it's to follow up point of contact becauseafter I came to campus, I want to verify what I saw on campus or what Iheard on campus is also on the website. So it's essential that institutions arepaying close attention to their website, but not only from mission perspective, but then also froma faculty perspective, as well as at other areas throughout campus cocurricular. So one of the things that we did is spent a significant amount oftime with our faculty members and our and our academic unit, saying how canwe strategically align our academic websites with our recruiting in emission website?From the standpoint of how do we make sure that our academic websites aresufficient for external audience and that external audience is our firstyear, students are transferred students or international students and so makingsure that we we have. The same message is just so critical and not having the same message shows thatthere's a disconnect and so really spending that time with your facultyreally spending time with. You know other academic units other units oncampus from Your Co curricular entities that you may work with on campusstudent development and other industries to ensure that everybodyunderstands that recruitment in a Roman is everybody's shop. And so how do wealign our website in a way that positions the institution to helpeveryone across campus knows that recruitment and enrolment is everyone'sjob, because you never know when you as a faculty member you as a staff memberyou as an administrator walking at grocery store or walk in thatdepartment store, and someone sees that ud shirt, how you engage with them. Howyou connect with them is really so important and then t that student mightgo back to the website right, and so it's just the website is so importantin the age of Genz. In the age of digital media, we have to do aoutstandin job as the institution making sure that that message iscarried through. I love that. I love that, because I've I've often talked toschools, I mean I didn't helped with my first website with my Oma Mater Onethousand nine hundred and ninety seven, so that kind of shows how old I am. ButI think that the one of the things that you know back then a lot of times. Thewebsite grew out of the advancement in the development office because it waslike an extension of the alumni magazine, and so you know audiencesback then we're kind of this mix match of well we're talking to the alumni andwe're talking to the donors and maybe the students, and but I think, in thelast few years it's become so critical that everybody needs to be aligned onin Roman, especially with stealth applicants and and just the challengeof being able to get the students these days, because I mean the students canfind a lot of information out and they're, never on the on the radar of aschool many times until they apply, and so it's so critical that everythingthey need to get that experience and self identify as on the Web, and it hasto be from an enrolment standpoint. So I think those are some great greatperspectives. Thank you, Donald Yeah. Thank you born agree, one hundredpercent donel, the pity back on reasons why you should have a great presenceonline is, I believe you said that, for this incoming class of freshmen,upwards of thirty percent of them have never set foot on Ud's campus. Couldyou kind of explain that yeah absolutely troy? And it's quiteinteresting because we're living in unique times and so students arestrategically evaluating institutions? You know on campus, from a standpointof virtually virtually on campus and so they've evaluated US based on ourvirtual experience. They evaluated US based on our website and then ourvirtual events and programming that we did over the past year, and so, as wesee, many institutions have to quickly adapt to the virtual experience. Manystudents have decided that you know...

...because of the pandemic, I'm unsure. IfI want to set foot on campus, some of them have decided because of theirfamily situations. They may not be able to get to campus financially. Some ofthem just don't, have the band with because of their schedule because ofall the things are involved in or maybe because they live across country andare unable to get to campus. And so what we found is that many students useour website. Our virtual tour and many our other platforms, more events todecide whether or not the university date is a good fit for them. And sothis mantra of not visiting campus isn't going anywhere. Many families aregoing to evaluate institutions based on their website, based on their virtualexperience, based on virtual opportunities, and so we, asinstitutions, must ensure that we have a platform set up that families cantruly evaluate who we are in order to make sound decisions and we're blessedof the University of Dayton that students were able to do just that.They were able to evaluate us and say you know what I'm not able to step footon campus. But I've seen enough- and I know of nothing. I've been engagedenough with faculty staffing administration and particularly therecruitment in e mission team, to make a decision to attend the University ofDayton, and so we have to continue to make sure that our digital presence is.That is really one of the best things that we can offer as soon as andfamilies across the country. Well, I think you must be successful at it,because I've read that the incoming class is the largest in the few. TheUniversity of Dayton's history is that correct? It is, and so we're reallyexcited about. You know the incoming freshman class and really are overallclass that we brought in from first year, students to transfer tointernational students, and so you know there was someone certainty, as formany institutions last year, just giving the environment, given all thethings that we have to go to. But again, you know we really were very diligentabout making sure that our digital presence was key and it lined up withour own campus experience, and so we wanted to make sure that we dideverything we can to meet students where they are to understand that thiswas a difficult year for them that they maybe didn't get to go to, that highschool prom at high school home coming. They were doing learning virtually andso really understanding all of the different impacts and and challengesthat they face throughout this year, but to really be intentional to createa strong sense of belonging. I believe, really allowed us to have a recordclass this year. That's great! That's so encouraging! Yes, also, it wasn'tonly the largest, but I also believe it was the most diverse, and I think youjust mentioned meeting students where they are, and I believe that diversity is somethingthat you are diving into a little deeper than maybe others have had inthe past or maybe there's an emphasis. I don't want to go, speak too much for you, but could youlet us know some of the work that either you or the campuses doing inorder to attract and have a focus on diversity and inclusion. Absolutelyyeah the University of Dan as a captain. Maria institution is committed todiversity, equity and inclusion, and it's truly represents who we are as aCatholic, mariness institution. And so why is that important? Because what weknow is that diversity represents excellence, so the more diversity thatwe have on campus, the more excellent we will be as an institution and sounder the leadership of our President, Dr R, expedient we've been verydiligent to make sure that we have one a plan that really outlines ours fortige plan: Around Diversity, Equi inclusion right now as an institutionwe're going through having unit based diversity, equity and inclusion,strategic plan by unit all seventeen different units on campus, reallyleading the charge to make sure that we're meeting the needs of the time andreally meeting the needs of students. Knowing that you know, diversity isreally essential to who we are, but...'s also essential, because our worldis changing that we live in, it continues to change and we want to beable to connect with all students. So those two things are happening. We alsoare very diligent about becoming an anti racist institution, eliminatingracist practices that may have existed through our history through our time asan institution, and because of that many of us we have eleven steps as aninstitution that number one we have committed to, and one of those steps isbecoming a more diverse institution through our recruitment and enrolmentstrategies, and so over the last five years, we've been very diligent aboutbecoming more strategic about how we recruit students, how we engage ourstudents and making sure that we eliminate barriers that would impedestudents from choosing the University of data and really finding that strongsense of belonging. In addition to that, the recruitment and e mission team hasbeen significant amount of time, having monthly dialogues around becoming aanti racist institution, and what does that mean for our work as aninstitution? What does that mean for us as a recruitment, an emission or Romanstaff, and how do we engage with students across the country across theworld? And so what we've seen is the fruits of that Labor has really paidoff in terms of how students and families evaluate the University ofdata. So over the over this time, we've been really diligent. To do everythingwe can to ensure that we are connected with families were intentional, thatwe're becoming more of an inclusive campus and a part of that is makingsure that you know everybody values, diversity, equity, inclusion. So it'snot just historically under represented families, but it's all of our familiesand really enlighting families to see the value of diversity and how it makesus better as an institution but I'll be the first to tell you. We madesignificant strides and we we've got a lot of great things, but there's stillmore work to be done, and so, as we move towards the future, we're going tocontinue to push forward we're going to continue to have high levelconversations at the president's captain level, but then also in theclassroom with students, also in the office with administration and staff,and so we're doing everything we can to continue to grow as an institution andcontinue to learn, but also continue to meet the needs of the time, to makesure that we are campus that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion at ahigh level. I love that Donellan. I think that it's so important because Imeet with a lot of schools, and especially, I think this ends up atsmaller schools and sometimes it's smaller faith based schools whorecognize that it s. This is an important thing. I mean this iscertainly a part of our faith and a part of who we are and what we want tobe. I mean you kind of made that pretty clear with the Catholic nerines. Youknow background, I mean it's who we are and we want to live that out, but Ithink sometimes in what I really appreciate about what you've beentalking about, and maybe you can go in a little bit deeper with your monthlymeetings with your staff and the intentionality internally, because it'sone thing to say: Well, we want to be a more diverse and equitable andinclusive campus, and so let's try to recruit more of those types of students.Well, that's a little bit backwards, because just because you have thosestudents on campus does not make you a diverse, inclusive and an equitablecampus. It's because you are already that and that that starts withrecruiting staff and faculty that reflect who you want to be well beforeyou start recruiting the students, and so tell me a little bit about that andhow that plays out at Ud and and how those monthly intentional meetings,even internally help change that, as opposed to just trying to create a newenrolment strategy. If you will absolutely they're critical, becauseone they're critical to creating a culture where we can have intentionalconversations about things that are happening in higher education and inour word that affect how we recruit students that affect how students viewus as an institution, and so we must create spaces in our offices- are crosscampus or we can have training, and we...

...can have true dialogue to really liveout the work and it's not just even about living out the work and havingdialogue. But it's in about producing results. You know diversifying ourstaff, it's about diversified our faculty memori about diversifying ouradministration and the institution has done a good job of really aligningthese metrics across campus to ensure that we do have more diverse staff. Wedo have more diverse faculty. We do have more diverse administration,because one can't go without the other, as you state at Bard, and so at theUniversity of Dayton were committed to that and we're committed to thatbecause that's of who we are- and so our Catholic marries values, challengeus to live that out. And while we've made some mistakes along the way andbecause we're not perfect, but we've done an outstanding job of challengingourselves to continue to have the conversation to continue to do the workand we find ourselves in a monthly meetings, particularly with therecruitment in e mission team, identify key metrics and key incidents thatmaybe have happened. And how do we address that? How do we navigate that?When student bring those questions to us and that's critical, because youknow we're all at different places on this journey? But what we can dotogether is much greater than what we can do separately and we find ourselveshaving really great intentional conversations that ultimately impacthow we recruit all students, how we recruit students, who are you, know,White and Caucasian, how we were creased students to are AfricanAmerican multi raise. We want everybody to see the value of diversity, equityand inclusion through the lands of the university dating commitment to thecommon good. So it's great great, really appreciate you sharing that and,as Bard said, there are many campuses that are facing that obstacle orlooking on how to implode themselves within diversity. Inclusion, as weclose our conversation, we usually ask if there's a a nugget or a kid bit,something that you could offer that another admission professional couldimplement right away. That has either been helpful, or maybe in theorysomething that you're going to be applying shortly. Anything that you canshare with US yeah. I think you know one of thethings that I've been telling. You know many teams and many entities that Iwork with a particularly our team is that you know we're in a strategicinflection point, so it's going to require us to be flexible, and so we aseducators, particularly in higher education, have to have the ability toact to change, excuse me and really adapt to the current times, and so fortoo long we have allowed status quo behavior to lead us as institutions,but then also impact our work and so we're now in environment. Where time ison our side, you know the pandemic, taught us that, and so it's time for usto make sure that status quo work isn't acceptable and that we we make surethat the value of the institution matches up with the value of the workthat we're delivering to students and families. So I just would encouragemany of my colleagues across the country across the world that we doeverything we can to present the best experience possible for our families,who are making a significant investment in our institutions, and we do that bybeing flexible. We do that being by being able to change. We do that byadapting to current situations, and we do that by putting a smile on our face.Every time we get a chance to engage with them and if we do, that will bemuch better for our families, well, be much better for our institutions andwe'll see a lot of great things happen for many of us across the country. That is a great note to end on Donnel.Thank you very much for your time and the wisdom that you shared. If someonewould like to get in touch with you, what would the best way for them to dothat be yeah? I would encourage you to...

...connect with me on Linkedin. You know Idon there wiggins on Linkedin and you can. You can definitely find me that'sa great way to connect. He Sat. You can also go to the University of datingwebsite. If you go to meet the recruitment in a mission team, you willfind my my picture and information there to connect with, and I would loveto connect with you and really get to know you and help in any way. I can,and I wish you all the best on your journey. I want to thank you Tory andBart for having me this afternoon, and I really appreciate the time and reallyappreciate connecting talking with you both and look forward to doing it inthe future. Again Great. Thank you. Thank you very much. Barrow. Do youhave any parting words yeah, just a couple things that Iwanted to kind of point out to everybody? And I guess, if I'm going toput a title on this episode, it would be something around authenticity andenrollment, and I think that so much of what we talked about, whether it's thewebsite and the importance of making sure that what we're communicating onthe website, with the importance of the four year degree or the or the idea ofmaking sure that the website is authentically, representing the oncampus experience even down to the point of being authentic in what we say.We believe in authentic, in what we're doing by really tackling this hardissue of diversity, equity and inclusion and making that part of ourour daily life. I really love the point that donal pointed out with the ideathat you know we put that smile on. We change. We make that a moment by momenttype of thing and so really that authenticity of making that a big partof everything that we're doing in the way we present ourselves digitally andthe way that people experience this when they arrive on campus and the waythat we live out our beliefs. I think it's so important, so I reallyappreciate everything that donal has said today and it's been an honor tohave this conversation. Thank you bart. I'll, also add that if our listenerswould, if you would like to spend a wonderful ten minutes getting to knowthe character in person, that donnel is is to Google Danel wiggins, tedx Dayton and it'll.Show you the reason why he has a passion for higher education. The high red market podcast issponsored by cales solutions and education, marketing and brandingagency and by thing patented, a marketing execution, printing andprovider of mailing solutions to hire at institutions. On behalf of my cohost Bar Cayler, I'm troice singer. Thank you very much for joining us today. You've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player, if you are listening with Apple Podcast, we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show, simply tap the number ofstars. You think the podcast deserves until next time. I.

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