Western Washington University has just launched “Go Northwest of Ordinary,” a targeted recruitment campaign focused on attracting new out-of-state students to come to Western next fall.
Locations in which Western has historically done well in recruiting, including Northern California, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Texas and the Chicago metro area will be the initial focus areas of the campaign which will run through May.
As Western Washington University President Sabah Randhawa pointed out in his 2019 Convocation address, the resource modeling exercise the campus community undertook last year showed that Western needs an additional $20 to $25 million annually over the next six years to bridge the current operational gap and have the resources to advance Western’s strategic plan.
“Our historical budget model relying on state funding and in-state tuition will not deliver the additional resource base we need to advance our aspirations,” Randhawa said. “Increasing Western’s enrollments by about 1,500 to 2,000 students over the same time period, with a disproportionate increase in non-resident students, will be an important strategy for diversification and revenue generation.”
This out-of-state campaign is part of the development of an enrollment management plan that will enable Western to more intentionally articulate and meet the university’s enrollment goals, in numbers, mix and diversity of the student body, inclusive of all sites where Western offers academic programs.
“At present, our student body consists of 87 percent resident students,” Randhawa said. “So, a relatively small increase in non-resident students at Western will not result in a major shift in resident-to-non-resident student mix, nor will it compromise our commitments to serve the people of our state. Additionally, non-resident students add a dimension of cultural diversity from which our community will surely benefit.”
Funding for the $450,000 campaign came from the Western Foundation along with matching funds from the university.
“Go Northwest of Ordinary” will consist of targeted digital marketing via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, pay-per-click advertising and IP targeting, as well as an awareness-building campaign inside Denver International Airport during the busy holiday travel season. The digital campaign will funnel interested students to a landing page and into the care of staff from the Office of Admissions.
Donna Gibbs, Western’s vice president of University Relations and Marketing, said the campaign’s messaging will focus on Western’s unique sense of place and more than 175 majors.
“There aren’t a lot of campuses that offer the ability to study oceans, rivers, forests, and mountain environments within minutes of the university’s locations,’ she said. “With this campaign we are aiming to appeal to Gen Z’s concerns for protecting the environment they are inheriting, even if they aren’t interested in making environmental science their primary field of study.”
Areas of storytelling for the campaign will start with the Olympic and North Cascades mountain-goat relocation project and move into salmon recovery efforts on the Nooksack River, the College of Fine and Performing Arts’ Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation Minor, and the Fairhaven Outback Farm. Efforts later this winter and spring will focus on the Mars Rover 2020 project, the Marine Science Scholars program at Shannon Point Marine Center, glacial-melt research on Mount Baker and the Project ZENeth Tiny House.