Presidents set out to reclaim Lutheran students
By Greg Brewis, Executive Director of University Communications
Two years ago a group of Lutheran college presidents began discussing whether collaborative strategies could help strengthen their competitive position in recruitment and admissions.
Recognizing that Lutheran students were becoming more and more likely to choose to attend public universities, the presidents agreed to establish the "Reclaiming Lutheran Students Project," with the goal of increasing the share of Lutheran students who choose to attend Lutheran colleges.
The schools involved are part of the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America (LECNA). LECNA's purpose is to encourage, assist and promote cooperation among Lutheran colleges and universities.
"We recognized that only 5 percent of all Lutheran students attend LECNA member colleges," said PLU President Loren J. Anderson, chairman of the LECNA competitive strategy committee.
"If we could find a way to increase that market share by only 1 percentage point, we could see a 20 percent increase in the number of Lutheran students on our campuses."
The committee sponsored a national market research study to sample the opinions of college graduates, the parents of prospective students, and church leaders. Completed last spring, it was funded by the Aid Association for Lutherans and individual Lutheran colleges and universities.
"The data we obtained provide dramatic evidence regarding the experience and impact of Lutheran colleges on their students, particularly when contrasted with students who attended large, public, research-oriented universities," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, the three biggest categories of competitive advantage for Lutheran colleges -- those that differentiate them best from public research universities -- are the personalized learning experience available at Lutheran colleges, the opportunities for involvement beyond the classroom at Lutheran colleges, and the integration of faith and values in the Lutheran college experience.
The LECNA college presidents are now developing a five-year communication program targeting the parents of college-bound Lutheran 9th- and 10th-grade students.
Parents will be reminded of the many ways that the Lutheran college experience best provides the educational outcomes they seek for their sons and daughters.