Let me quote a college president and ask you to guess the year it was said.
The uncertain future will be determined largely by the vision and the untiring effort of the college servants in ascertaining the educational needs of that section of American youth which the college serves and in fulfilling these needs in a superior way—but also partially at least by national and economic forces wholly outside their control.
Perhaps it would help to know that it was a president of Hiram College (my alma mater) that said this, and he was referring to the tumultuous environment in which small colleges operate. In fact, this quote sets forth the importance of marketing in higher education. It demonstrates a particular president’s understanding that organizations must adapt to external influences beyond control, and that success or failure is based upon ascertaining the wants and needs of students in target markets and serving those students better than an institution’s competitors.
The author of the quote is Kenneth Brown (I have no known relation to him), and the year is 1940.
When did marketing come to higher education? It was at least 73 years ago.
Brown, K. I. (1940). A campus decade: The Hiram Study Plan of intensive courses. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.