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Opening doors to the nation’s top universities

U marketing is working to change perceptions.

Americans believe the nation’s leading research universities are in a position to address the grand challenges of the day, but there is a concern that the same universities are not accessible to all. New marketing efforts plan to show how the University of Utah will lead on both fronts.

Research conducted over the past 18 months by the Association of American Universities (AAU) looked at the perception of leading American research universities and found that more than 80% of respondents said they believe they make important scientific discoveries. And 74% said these institutions are crucial players in the country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Americans are also looking at leading research universities for COVID-19 vaccine discovery. Of those surveyed, 54% said they believe one of these institutions will be the first to develop an effective vaccine.

But while Americans are confident in the abilities of leading research universities, many don’t necessarily feel they have a place there. Only 10% of respondents said they “strongly agree” that they could afford an education at one of these schools.

The U, which is one of the 65 members of the AAU, is trying to spread the message that it is possible not only to believe in leading research universities but be a part of one as well. The “Imagine U” marketing campaign asks potential students to see themselves at the U. And the “For Utah” scholarship program allows students who otherwise would not see a path to higher education attend the U on a full scholarship.

“This new research from the AAU shows that institutional marketing efforts have never been more important than they are now,” said Bill Warren, the U’s chief marketing and communications officer. “People trust and have confidence in America’s leading research universities, it’s our job to build on that reputation by reminding students and their families of the value of a degree from the U.”

Brian Rasmussen, director of marketing for University Marketing & Communications, said, “Today we need innovators, health care professionals and leaders in all fields more than ever. This is why we plan to reach as many audiences as possible with the message that if you can imagine yourself making a difference then the U is one of the best places in the country to help you do it.”