Marketing a “Public” University: Public Policy or Strategic Business?

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Public Policy and Public Marketing

Publication Date



If a publicly supported entity invests in marketing—when those limited state and donor dollars might be used to improve the base services—politicians and citizens begin to feel uncomfortable. Yet, as higher education in the US moves from state support to a quasi- free market model, those universities that define their distinctive brand promises and communicate them effectively will be the winners. This case study analyzes the possible renaming of an entrepreneurial, rapidly growing public university engaged in extensive public/private collaboration—as it seeks to grow to a “full service” university. The risk factors and stakeholders are assessed, along with alternative ways to accomplish the goal. The case analysis highlights the choice that lies before U.S. public policy formulators: to encourage entrepreneurial leadership in higher education or to re-think current state and federal policies. The case presentation offers contributions to the scholarship of discover, integration and teaching in an emerging field, higher education marketing. It demonstrates the business implications of two competing cultures in universities, the mechanistic and the organic, and makes suggestions for future research in higher education marketing.

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Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License

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