Perception survey results give insight to the BOT

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

EWU’s location ranked as its No. 1 strength and weakness in the Spokane County section of the perception survey.

The end results of the October 2014 – March 2015 EWU perception survey was presented to the board of trustees during their last open meeting of the 2014-15 academic school year on May 14.

When EWU began reviewing the strategic planning process, the one that will last from 2012 to 2017, there were questions on how to measure the university’s success or failures, according to Michael Westfall, University Advancement executive director.

Westfall said EWU teamed up with Desautel Hege Communications to look at EWU’s impact on the community and how it relates to the university’s image.

Desautel Hege is a company out of Spokane that focuses on advertising, public relations, research and design to help with marketing strategies.

According to Emily Easley, Desautel Hege senior account executive, the survey had three main targets: statewide, Spokane County and alumni. The alumni were surveyed online and the other two categories by phone.

Across all audiences, the EWU athletic department was the first to come to mind, and only five percent of people thought about education.

This was more than likely because of the way people get their news, said Easley. The media, like newspapers and news stations, will have more opportunities to report on sports events than events focused on education.

Chair member Jo Ann Kauffman questioned the seven percent of alumni who found EWU unfavorably, saying it seemed odd.

“It wasn’t unusual,” said Easely. “Really, I think that none of the results that we got really surprised us. That is incredibly low amongst alumni, so we were pleased with the results we got here. ”

There were areas for improvement.

The survey results showed that EWU is not as well known statewide and 56 percent of the 500 statewide participants said they either had no opinion or they had never heard of the university.

“It’s just an opportunity to expand, no bad news,” said Easley

The overall results showed that EWU has a strong image that has plenty of room to be built upon, said Christine Varela, a partner with Desautel Hege. EWU lacks a presence outside of Eastern Washington, which can be improved.

“So the good news through all this, and we were very happy to see the results, is that we’re coming on six years of record enrollment,” said Westfall. “We have strong perception survey results, which is great, and so we have a really strong foundation or platform to build on and do a little more.”

Westfall said the current marketing process is more tactical than strategic because of the issue of budget.

“Departments or programs that have marketing budgets, they market; and those that don’t, can’t,” said Westfall. “So our vision going forward is that we want to use data, which now we’ve got a great foundation of data to build upon and evaluate to determine our priorities and to efficiently invest our resources.”

Westfall presented three primary goals from a marketing standpoint for the years to come: enrollment, academic positioning and fundraising.

Enrollment includes the types of students EWU wants, whether they be from a community college, transfers, incoming freshmen or international students, said Westfall. Fundraising includes projects like the sustainability centers, Eastern arts alliances and scholarship efforts.

Academic positioning is what EWU wants to be known for.

According to the survey, EWU is most well known for its education program followed by its business program.

Westfall said that it will be a goal to promote more of the STEM programs.

“We’re really excited about the survey and about the direction of how things are running,” said Westfall.