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
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
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.
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
(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
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