Published: Sept. 1, 2014

Bruce D. Benson

Campaigning for the Future

CU President Bruce D. Benson (Geol’64, HonDocSci’04) announced earlier this fall that the university is in the process of developing a marketing campaign aimed at raising the profile of CU’s four-campus system, in Colorado and beyond.

Why does CU need to market itself?

Several reasons: We’re in an increasingly competitive marketplace for top students and top faculty. We have an excellent university, but we haven’t been deliberate in how we go about telling key constituents about our excellence. We must change that. Additionally, while state funding increased this fiscal year, projections show more declines in coming years. Effective marketing will help us with key revenue streams, including fundraising and attracting great students. Also, competitor institutions in Colorado, the Pac-12 and around the country are aggressive in their marketing. We have been a bit too complacent, believing that people inherently understand we’re a great university. That’s not always the case.

What are the goals?

We want to convey the value and contributions of CU, first and foremost. We also have marketing efforts on each of our campuses. While they are meeting specific campus imperatives, we need to provide connective tissue among them so we can coordinate where necessary and leverage efforts. Finally, we need to support our fundraising efforts, which are increasingly important in light of projected declines in state funding.

How will it be carried out?

We will take a three-pronged approach, working with Greenhouse Partners, a Colorado firm we engaged. We will do extensive quantitative and qualitative research to establish a baseline of what people think of us now, create a strategic marketing plan to move those baseline opinions, then develop a creative concept for a multimedia campaign over the coming years. At some point, we will replicate the research to see if we are moving the needle.

How will it be funded?

With initiative funds, which are interest earnings on CU investments we use for projects of high strategic importance. No tuition revenue, state funds or donor funds will be diverted for the project.

How will it differ from the Be Boulder. marketing campaign the Boulder campus is undertaking?

Be Boulder. is focused on the campus and the larger effort will focus on the entire CU system. However, I expect each to complement and add value to the other.

Illustration by Melinda Josie