There are so many things that motivate people. Among the top of the list money, power, prestige, ego. And somewhere down the line lives integrity. We don’t always do things for the right reasons, especially in today’s world. But yesterday, I can proudly say that I am part of an institution that places integrity first. In what has been described as a “bold” move, the University of the Suuth, Sewanee, my alma mater, announced that it would LOWER, that’s right LOWER, it’s tuition by 10%. In a time when Universities across America are competing for top students, struggling to make ends meet and feeling challenged to stay competitive, U of S, Sewanee took a step in a very interesting direction (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/education/edlife/17tuition.html?_r=1).
Though this move to reduce tuition, will result in $6-$8 million loss per year, the University felt it was time to draw a line in the sand. Enough is enough. And I couldn’t agree more. How in the world can the average family afford $46,000 per year for college tuition? It has pained me to see the tuition cost rise and rise. There is no possible way that, at this rate of increase, my children nor my class mate’s children could ever enjoy the mountain as we once did.
This bold move is backed with integrity and a sense of realism that is fresh and innovative. As a public relations practitioner I find this move- BRILLIANT. Yes brilliant. They could not have spent $6 million on a branding campaign and achieved the results that this grass-roots move will generate. The story has made its way to the NY Times and the Wall Street journal, it’s the buzz on facebook and twitter. (though I would love to have added a little coaching to McCardell’s video…I think that this was bit of a let down…It didn’t show the passion of the mountain that I know to be true…Sewanee…we missed out on a great opportunity with this one).
My only hope is the Sewanee is prepared with a robust PR and Marketing plan to keep the momentum going. I’d love to know just how many people, who have never heard of Sewanee, will now click on the website and consider this University as a choice for their children. Yes the financial aspect is a nice little perk….My hope is that it will attract like-minded students who value integrity and the true value education. Sewanee is not a “discount” University but rather a place where people matter and a place where doing the right thing is paramount, regardless of the “cost”.
Yeah Sewanee’s Right!