Dear Esther – Part 2
By now, through all of the discussion venues, you know that we have several concerns related to the decision facing you and the Board of Trustees. Today we focus on something directly related to the viability of the university: the marketing of the college for women.
WHAT WE KNOW…
Over the last several years, the fact that the undergraduate college at Chatham is a women’s college has become a carefully concealed secret.
In the past, Chatham proudly embraced its heritage and highlighted the solid, world ready preparation that an all-female educational environment could provide. No longer. The shift has been gradual but insidious. Now if you click on Chatham’s undergraduate main web page, you will see nothing that lets a prospective student know that there is a women’s college, let alone the advantages she may enjoy because of the education she will receive as a women’s college graduate.
See for yourself.
Additionally, the marketing that is being sent to local publications is graduate student-centered. We have located 12 Chatham University advertisements placed in the Pittsburgh City Paper over the last seven years. Two of those ads are for the School of Sustainability, nine are for various graduate programs, graduate open houses, or the grad school in general, and ONE is for the women’s college. Yet, even that ad portrays the women’s college more as an entwined stepping stone to the graduate school as opposed to its own unique, worthwhile identity.
According to the City Paper’s demographics, a full 63% of their print readership has either a high school diploma or some college without a college degree. Only 21% of their print readers have a college degree, and yet Chatham University has invested 75% of their advertising for one publication on the potential graduate pool, and only 8% to the college for women.
This is just one example. How many other publications have such skewed marketing resources? And is this indicative of the overall marketing stratgey?
WHAT WE BELIEVE…
The deliberate shift of focus from the undergraduate college has been a significant factor in the decreased enrollment of the college for women.
If it is true that an unplanted garden cannot grow, then the University’s tunnel vision when it comes to marketing for graduate recruitment and the co-ed Sustainability program has done a tremendous disservice to the undergraduate college for women. How can women be aware of the wonderful education and experiences that wait for them at Chatham if they don’t understand, or even know, about the college for women? And if they don’t know about the college for women, how can they make the life-altering choice of attending?
If, as the administration says, 80% of students are looking for a college within a 200 mile radius, then surely the local media sources ought to have the most intense focus when it comes to ALL of Chatham’s college, not just two out of three.
WHAT WE WANT…
A delay of the Board of Trustees vote.
Given the noticeable reduction in the presence of marketing for the women’s college, we believe the co-ed vote should be delayed by at least a year. During that time we ask you and the administration to provide us with the following:
- A detailed description of the last five years’ marketing plans including but not limited to funds allocated specifically to the College for Women marketing efforts, materials created, and return on investment reports from the college and/or any outside public relations firm(s) contracted to carry out said marketing plans.
- A detailed description of the marketing plan created for the University, should the Board approve the co-ed proposal, to achieve the new students required to maintain the undergraduate college’s solvency.
You have asked for our feedback, Esther, but are you and the Board really listening? If so, you will take this letter to heart and act upon our requests.
The Save Chatham Movement