Strategy 2025 Documents

Community Engagement, Communications, and Marketing (Faculty & Staff Session 3 Recap)

Faculty and staff gathered virtually for their Impact 2030 strategy session on the topic of community engagement, communications and marketing. The session was facilitated by Kerry Case, University of Utah chief sustainability officer and Ischa Jensen, associate executive director of system planning and University of Utah Health.

Case and Jensen opened the session with a discussion of the fundamental mission and values that guide the University of Utah, including student success, scholarship and inclusion. Then, the facilitators asked the group to describe characteristics that set the U apart. Answers included: community, research and service. Next the moderators asked what may be missing. Focusing on engagement rather than service and applying community voices were a few thoughts that were shared.

President Taylor Randall has added an institutional goal of advancing a new national higher education model for delivering societal impact. The facilitators asked the group to review a list of tactics that work toward that goal before suggesting additional steps for achieving societal impact. Suggestions included identifying needs of the community, equity in pay and advancing salaries, and focusing on life-long education.

The group divided into two breakout session. Summaries of key topics discussed are below:

Community engagement

When it comes to community engagement, the consensus between both sessions was that the U needs to improve its presence in underserved communities. These include Tribal nations,   homeless and unsheltered populations, refugee and immigrant communities, low-income communities and rural communities.

There was also a strong consensus on the need for improved childcare services and increased staff salaries. Participants also discussed the importance of the U providing access to the arts in the Salt Lake City area. This could include music and art initiatives in greater SLC schools. This is an area that is underfunded and inaccessible to communities.

There is a need and desire for better coordination between groups at the university who are involved in community engagement. This could look like a task force for community engagement with funding and staff to do field work as well as the resources to maintain an internal database of what community engagement work is being done.

This database would be used to strengthen existing partnerships, inform others on campus of editing relationships, and to represent the U as one. When multiple groups or departments are collaborating with the same partner and unaware of that, it does not represent the U well.

Marketing and communications

Overall, the group felt the U has a positive reputation in the state but is less well-known outside of the state. An area of improvement would be communicating the way the U is involved across the state, especially in rural communities. There is a perception the university is just involved in urban, liberal areas of the state.

Following the anit-diversity, equity and inclusion legislation, there is a need to figure out how to communicate to diverse students, faculty and staff that they are welcome and safe here. Another part of strengthening the university’s national reputation is highlighting it’s achievements, specifically research.

Locally, there is a need to better market the impact that non-health science research has on the community. It’s also important to continue to address the misconception that the U does not provide a “typical” college experience because of its reputation as a commuter school.

Overall, attendees seemed happy with the marketing and communication work the U is doing, but wanted more resources and opportunity for connection. It was pointed out that other institutions of comparable size to the U have a larger central communications office. Suggestions for improving relationships between collaboration between marketing groups on campus included using the same communication tools and gathering more. People also wanted access to AI resources and other tools to help them do their jobs.

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