Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Loyola College: The Whole U

Giving only her first name when introducing herself, Elizabeth looked surprise to be standing in front of the decent sized crowd that had formed in the Program Room. An employee of the Simpson Scarborough marketing group hired to help promote Loyola’s “brand,” Elizabeth was invited to give a lecture aptly named The Marketing and Branding Initiative of Loyola College in Maryland to both students and faculty. Given the exciting nature of the topic, Elizabeth had expected only two or three students to show up and was shocked to find a room full of students each with notebooks and pens ready to take notes when she arrived. Rather than standing at the head and speaking at the crowd, Elizabeth encouraged as much participation as possible and opened the floor up for discussion from the onset. Her goal was not only to present the findings of the numerous surveys her company had set up and sent out since December of last year but to get as much feedback from the crowd as well. The talk revolved around the results of these surveys and the way they will impact the overall brand that Loyola wishes to present in the near future.
A college or university’s “brand” is much more than just the logo or mascot associated with the institution. It is everything that comes to mind when one thinks of that institution. Just like any major business, a colleges wishes to project a positive image of itself out to the world to help draw people to the college. What this image entails depends solely on the institution. Unfortunately, colleges, even those with prestigious business programs such as Loyola, need help with marketing their brand. This is where Elizabeth’s company steps in. Surveying everyone from alumni and parents, to faculty and prospective students, Simpson Scarborough set out to find what people look for in an institution and what makes that institution “respectable.” Being a Jesuit college that upholds St. Ignatius’ call to be “men and women for others,” the surveys created for Loyola revolved around the importance and availability of service opportunities and religious programs as well as the more traditional college concerns that people have such as the number of classes, the appearance of the campus, and the availability of teachers. Among the 13 or so options, the call to create well rounded individuals was the most popular among every survey group. Though one may argue that being well rounded is too much of a generic answer, it is the main goal that Catholic liberal arts colleges strive for in each of their students and thus is the main goal of Loyola. In “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Higher Education”, Peter-Ham Kolvenbach S.J., quotes Father Ignacio Ellacuria saying that one of the main goals of a Christian university is “to provide skills for the unskilled” (30). These skills are not limited to the classroom. They are the skills that help develop students into “whole” individuals.
But what does it mean to become “whole”? Loyola stresses not only academic excellence but social excellence. Loyola wishes to mold not only the minds of its students but their souls as well by instilling an understanding of justice and compassion in all that enter its doors. And yet a college can only influence an individual’s call to service to a certain degree. A lot depends on the student and their willingness to be open to the hopes their institution has for them. It is the job of the student to decide what they wish to take away from their college experience.

No comments: