OPINION: Marywood should rebrand in 2017
February 14, 2017
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Marywood ended 2016 with many potential changes in mind following the release of the final Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) report in late November. As the university proceeds through 2017, it needs to reevaluate its brand position as a liberal arts university and find a new identity for two main reasons.
First, Marywood’s liberal arts majors have struggled to attract new students and make up a majority of the programs to undergo cuts or changes in the final SRA report. Enrollment declined in both the Munley College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Reap College of Education and Human Development by nearly 20 percent from 2011 to 2015. The Insalaco College of Creative and Performing Arts’ enrollment also declined roughly 22 percent.
The second reason Marywood needs to rebrand is that Marywood’s non-liberal arts majors, like Architecture, Nutrition and Physician Assistant program are not among the programs slated in the suggestions of the final SRA report to be withdrawn, phased out, placed in abeyance or requiring transformations. These majors serve as three of Marywood’s most successful.
According to Marywood’s 2015 Fact Book, the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) was the only college to experience growth from 2013 to 2015. Additionally, the School of Architecture maintained consistent enrollment from 2011 to 2015 and may likely improve its census because of its national accreditation.
Because a growing portion of Marywood’s success in recruiting new students over the last few years has occurred outside the liberal arts programs, the university’s identity should begin to reflect that. Marywood can continue to embrace a core curriculum with liberal arts courses, but embracing them fully as an identity no longer seems reasonable.
Marywood should restructure its identity and efforts toward majors like Architecture, Nutrition and Physician Assistant as its future. Enrollment numbers for all three have been consistent and growing, and careers in the health sciences make up the majority of the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Refocusing Marywood’s branding to these majors is crucial. The university’s mission statement can still assert an“enduring liberal arts tradition,” but its identity should be an institution of strong health sciences and professional programs.
Marywood’s enrollment numbers illustrate this, and our brand should begin to as well.
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