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From the President
Dear friends,

This fall Southwestern College chose to participate in the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). AQIP was designed by the organization that accredits colleges in this part of the United States and it represents a significant departure from how accreditation traditionally has worked. Unlike the traditional accreditation process, which involves looking back and documenting what you have done well, AQIP encourages colleges to look ahead and work proactively to identify and acknowledge key performance problems and then take steps to get better.

It takes a certain level of self-confidence, and a certain kind of scrappy ambition, for a college to willingly submit itself to the rigors of a quality improvement push. Self-examination and change are not easy. But Southwestern is ready to do it, because even as we celebrate the parts of our college that are terrific, we know we can be better.

I don’t expect you to be fascinated by this. I won’t make the mistake of sending you AQIP updates. But I did want you to know this: Southwestern is good, really good; but we have decided to get better. You’ll see it.

Best regards,

Dick Merriman

Administration Viewpoint

Not so very long ago, marketing was a dirty word on college campuses.

A good reputation? We wanted that. A reason for alumni to feel good about their alma mater? We wanted that, too. A way for donors to identify the values that would make Southwestern a good choice? Please, put that on the wish list, too.

What we didn’t want to do was call it marketing. Marketing is what happens to soap or cereal, not to something as high-toned as education. Used-car salesmen market; professors don’t.

But in the past decade or so, something strange has happened. Those of us who work in higher education have come to realize that marketing isn’t a dirty word. Marketing, and its first cousin “branding,” are not impositions on the college’s audiences. Instead, when we market the college and develop a strong brand, we’re clearing up the potentially muddy water of academic reputations, relations, and choices. Our brand—the way we communicate Southwestern College in words, graphics, colors, and symbols—gives people a way to find Southwestern, and tells them what to expect here. So after research, listening, and asking a lot of questions, a new word has joined our everyday vocabulary.


And since this word was first proposed as part of the SC brand in late spring, it has just felt right. At Southwestern we connect in countless ways—we connect students to the faculty that help make them lifelong learners; we connect learners and faculty to technology that will be part of their personal and professional lives; we connect alumni to each other and to students and to the wider professional world; we connect donors to the areas where they feel good about their support of the college. The list goes on and on.

Faculty have enthusiastically embraced the new Connect: Southwestern College tagline. “Connection Builders” (an alumni recruitment program), “SC Connections” (which pairs students with alumni mentors), and “Connect” (a high school literary magazine) already have made use of the unified brand.

So be on the look-out for Southwestern’s brand, and its promise to you that we will keep in touch.

Sara Severence Weinert
Vice President for Communications