NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Due to the success of Stephen F. Austin State University's recent marketing campaign, the Board of Regents approved extending the project through the next fiscal year, allocating $1.6 million for a two-phase plan that will include more of the popular "Lumberjacks Make Great" billboards and other advertising.
The next phase of the campaign will include extensive media buys during both the fall and spring semesters, focusing on the most critical times of year for the college-decision process, according to representatives from Richards/Carlberg, the university's marketing and creative design partner for the campaign.
"The initial phase of the campaign focused on increasing the positive perception of SFA among prospects, students, alumni and business leaders, and that will continue," Chuck Carlberg, the firm's principal, said during a presentation to the board Monday. "However, the next phase of the campaign will be more targeted at helping to increase inquiries and, ultimately, enrollment."
The board approved the marketing plan for Fiscal Year 2015 at its quarterly meeting Tuesday morning. In addition to the fall and spring branding and enrollment campaigns, which will include the additional billboards, the plan includes funds for a redesign of the SFA website, high-profile media buys such as SFA signage recently placed inside Texas airports, campus signage and promotional materials.
Representatives from Richards/Carlberg said the marketing campaign's first phase has performed above industry benchmarks, citing 276,000 unique guests were driven to an SFA web page created as part of the first phase.
"Especially encouraging is the adoption of the 'Lumberjacks Make Great' tagline in social media by current students and alumni," said Josh Powers, senior copywriter for Richards/Carlberg. "We have even seen it picked up and utilized by outside vendors who have a presence here on campus. I can't stress how uncommon this is for a campaign that has only been in the market for a few months. Our other higher education clients would love to have such an overwhelming response."
The marketing plan was included in the total budget of $238.6 million for Fiscal Year 2015 approved by the regents Tuesday. The budget includes a 2-percent merit pool for faculty and staff pay increases and represents a less than 1-percent increase over last year's institutional budget. A $4.39 million capital plan also was approved by the board for capital renewal, planned maintenance and renovation projects across campus, including upgrades to Johnson Coliseum and numerous academic and auxiliary facilities.
In other business, the board reluctantly revoked its recent selection of the Merrill Lynch LMT Wealth Management Group to serve as investment adviser for the university's endowment funds. The board was informed that Merrill Lynch made a corporate determination that it considers a public university's endowment funds to be public funds. Consequently, Merrill Lynch will not allow its advisers, such as the LMT Wealth Management Group, to manage public university endowment funds that are controlled by a board of regents. The SFASU Foundation and SFA Alumni Foundation as separate 501(C)3 organizations are not included in this Merrill Lynch determination.
Going forward, the university's $11 million endowment will be managed by the Texas A&M University System through a State of Texas Interagency Agreement, the board decided Tuesday. The university plans for the Texas A&M University System to take over management of the SFA endowment Dec. 1.
During the meeting Tuesday, the board also approved:
- a telephone switch hardware replacement;
- the purchase of employee training software and maintenance;
- a storage area network replacement;
- an upgrade to the university's Luminis platform, used for online course-related and administrative functions;
- classroom technology upgrades;
- new grant awards allocable to Fiscal Year 2014 totaling $183,254;
- the use of Athletic Supply Inc. and Teamline as team dealers for additional purchases of UnderArmour gear for athletic teams; and
- various new and revised university policies.