Marketing a higher education institution's organizational identity

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University of Alabama Libraries

Colleges and universities compete annually for students, faculty, research funding, charitable donations, state appropriations, prestige, business partnerships, and athletic success. As federal and state support continues to decline, institutions increasingly find the marketplace for higher education challenging, especially for small, independent, enrollment-driven schools. In this pressure-filled environment, colleges and universities still strive to match students who "fit" well with their institutions. Simply attracting more students and increased support are insufficient outcomes. To effectively pair school and student, higher education institutions could seek to differentiate themselves as much as possible. Communicating organizational identity provides colleges and universities an opportunity to define how their strengths and culture can best serve prospective students. This qualitative case study includes interviews with current students regarding their participation in the enrollment process and their lived experience at a small, independent university. An organizational identity framework illustrates those characteristics the students found central, enduring, and distinctive about their college experience. The purpose of this study is to examine how organizational identity and the market for higher education might best converge to serve students and strengthen small independent colleges and universities. Recommendations include analysis of mission and its contemporary expression, of academic programs, of culture expectations, and of campus climate.

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Higher education administration