OWU makes change to staff to improve enrollment

By Breanne Reilly

Transcript Reporter

William Kopp won national awards for his advertising campaigns at Columbus State Community College, and a key part of his new role as Ohio Wesleyan’s chief communication officer will be boosting enrollment.

According to President Rock Jones, Kopp was hired on Jan. 2 after a national search, led by committee chair Professor Glenn Bryan.

Bryan said that the role is critical in presenting the OWU brand and requires many different skills, including aspects of marketing, communication and support of the liberal arts.

In addition to his work at Columbus State, Kopp also worked as a speech writer for Ohio State University, and manager of corporate marketing and executive communications for Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute.

He said his goal is to market OWU to prospective students, their parents and alumni.

“Higher education is very competitive right now,” he said, adding that attracting students and donors through marketing is an important aspect. “…Marketing is really getting your story out there. You don’t want to be the best kept secret, you don’t want to be a hidden gem, you want everybody to know the good work going on here.”

Kopp said his main goals are to make the OWU website more “responsive” and easier to use on mobile devices, and increase and improve the use of video.

He spent the past few weeks working with a videographer to interview students about the OWU Connection, experiences in Travel Learning Courses and trips funded by Theory to Practice Grants.

“I want to find out what the real brand of Ohio Wesleyan is so I can tell that story,” Kopp said. “By brand I don’t mean slogan, I don’t mean a trademark or logo, it’s the essence of the place.”

Kopp said he interviewed nine students and created 13 different videos. The videos were shot and edited by a freelance videographer, Mark Van Horn, who previously worked at WCMH-TV.

Kopp said Van Horn’s work has won national awards and OWU will be paying him $960.

The videos will be used to raise funds for student scholarships and shown at the Board of Trustees’ retreat on Feb. 5-7.

According to Jones, the retreat will be held in Naples, Florida.  The purpose of the retreat is to review the Strategic Plan, review the proposed case statement for the upcoming campaign and to review the Student Housing Master Plan.

Jones said this is the first retreat in five years and it has the “best attendance” he has witnessed since he became president.

Kopp said the amount of students applying and enrolled at OWU has not decreased, but they want to increase numbers by sharing stories of successful OWU graduates with prospective students and their families.

“Parents want to know there is a future post-graduation,” Kopp said. “A survey of the class of 2013 showed that 94 percent of OWU graduates were employed, in graduate school or both.”

Dave Wottle, who has worked as interim vice president for enrollment since last fall, said Jones’ goal for the university is to attract 590 prospective students for the 2014 fall semester.

He added that a student’s academic record is the most important factor in determining acceptance.

Students who have a 3.5 or higher grade point average don’t have to submit their ACT or SAT test score.

Wottle said he also wants to improve the academic profile of the enrolled students, maximize the amount of revenue received from student tuition.

He also hopes to enroll a class diverse in socioeconomic class, ethnicity and international residency.

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