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CARS redesigning website to market university

Published: March 13, 2009
Section: News

UP CLOSE: Jamie Fleishman ‘11 gives a tour to prospective students and their families.  Because of the nation’s economic recession, fewer families can afford making the trip to visit campus before applying to the university, making a well designed comprehensive website crucial for attracting young minds.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

UP CLOSE: Jamie Fleishman ‘11 gives a tour to prospective students and their families. Because of the nation’s economic recession, fewer families can afford making the trip to visit campus before applying to the university, making a well designed comprehensive website crucial for attracting young minds.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Part IV of V in a series on Academic Restructuring

In an effort to better market the university, the Curriculum and Academic Restructuring and Steering committee’s admissions subcommittee has begun work on a redesign of the university’s website.

“The website is the first stop for many prospective students when they begin to look at colleges,” subcommittee member Prof. Margie Lachman (PSYCH) said. “In the 21st century, the web is certainly more important than print literature in terms of making sure prospective students have a complete understanding about what Brandeis is and what we are all about.”

The redesign of the website is just the latest in a string of changes the university has been making, including adding a business major, in an effort to raise revenue by increasing the number of students enrolled each year.

That the admissions subcommittee is concentrating on advertising the university through the internet, as opposed to printed literature, is no coincidence. As Senior Vice President of Communications Lorna Miles told The Hoot, “in a time of financial limitations, using the internet is a cost effective way to reach out to potential applicants.”

The internet is also the method of choice for prospective students researching the university.

The new site will be different from the current website in that it will be organized by broad categories. Instead of having a separate webpage for each major, the site will organize majors into clusters, such as “Health and Society,” each of which will have a homepage.

From the clusters’ “micro sites,” one can then navigate to individual majors. The design of each “micro site” is being worked on by at least one student, one faculty member, and one member of Miles’ communications staff.

While this new organization seems to echo the idea of “meta-majors,” Lachman said that the clustering of majors “is just marketing” and will not change the structure of the university in any way.

“It’s important for future students to see what they are going to do when they get out of here,” she said. “It’s not going to change what they can or will do here, but with the economic times, people are questioning why they need a liberal arts education, so we want to make it more clear how coming to Brandeis can help you when you leave, even though we are a liberal arts university.”

The website will also emphasize Brandeis’ core values of “social justice, community and opportunity”—which have been decided on by the subcommittee.

“We want to show outsiders what we know about how great Brandeis is,” Lachman said. “It’s not that we want to be unique, but we want to capture the essence of Brandeis.”

Lachman said that this new slogan is not, by any means, an effort to replace the university’s motto of “Truth, even unto its innermost parts,” but rather it is an effort to show prospective students “that they can fit in here and to excite them about that through the web.”

Lachman sees the website as a way for the Admissions Department to expand recruitment to areas of the country and the globe that have growing populations that the university has not yet tapped, such as the Southeast and Southwest of the United States.

“The baby boomlet has passed its peak, so we are trying to recruit more students in a time where there are less high school graduates than there used to be,” Lachman said. “So we’re trying to find where in the country and the globe the population is growing.”

Currently, the majority of Brandeis students are from the Northeast of the United States, and while Lachman believes that Brandeis will always have a large amount of students from these regions, she said that in order to accept more students while maintaining the same quality of Brandeis student, the Admissions Department will have to look outside of New England.

In addition to a new organization, the website will also have a revamped “micro site” that features profiles of students, faculty and alumnae.

“Students leave here with a great education, but I think what makes Brandeis graduates unique is that they also have a sense of social justice which they carry with them to wherever they go next,” Miles explained. “We want to show that Brandeis produces conscientious students, but also students who have a conscience.”

Lachman also said the website will advertise Brandeis as a “green,” or environmentally friendly university, citing university President Reinharz’s decision to reduce bottled water on campus last year.

Miles said that using the website as a method to advertise for Brandeis is logical given the nation’s current economic crisis, a time when many families may not be able to afford traveling to the campus.

“Which college we are going to go to is one of the most expensive decisions we make in our lives, and it’s a decision that we all need good information to make,” Miles said.

“With the committee, we’re trying to create admissions materials that give prospective students a sense of the Brandeis experience using the website to help them make their decisions, even if they can’t come visit campus,” she continued.

A pilot of the website should be available to the Brandeis community by April, at which point in time, students, faculty and staff will be able to critique the website and request changes before the pilot becomes official.