The “long and slow metamorphosis” of higher education marketing

Last night on Higher Ed Live, University of the Pacific Associate Vice President of Marketing and University Communications Richard Rojo answered questions about marketing organizational structure. He described a “long and slow metamorphosis” of the marketing and communications function at his university. Previously, it was as a function of the institutional advancement division, but now it reports directly to the president. Mr. Rojo answered questions about the size of his staff (which has increased) and the balance of generalists and specialists in his division.

Mr. Rojo said that higher education marketing and communications is transitioning from a copy shop to a full-service agency. As marketing is becoming more accepted in higher education, organizations are adapting. University of the Pacific is on the leading edge of this transition.

The responsibilities of marketing and university communication at University of the Pacific—at least as best as I understood from this interview—was primarily focused on communications. The textbook definition of marketing involves aligning an organization’s product or services with a customer’s wants or needs. Yet, I did not hear much about product, place, or price.

Perhaps the members of the president’s cabinet are marketing savvy, and the senior team works together developing programs for target markets.

If not, as University of the Pacific continues to adapt and as the associate vice president position becomes more involved at the cabinet level, the marketing concept might become more important. Collaboration with the provost, chief financial officer, and others could make this happen.

The hour-long interview covered a variety of topics and I recommend it for anyone working in higher education marketing or communications.

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