The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran a piece on an institution that has created and implemented a transformation strategy: Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Among other surprising facts, Liberty has the highest “on-line only” enrollment of any not-for-profit institution in the US. The Chronicle reporter Jack Stripling attributes LU’s success to the following factors:
Align Programming and Mission
Every online student at Liberty takes at least nine credit hours with a biblical emphasis, tying the university’s mission to its programming. “That is a critical factor in their success,” says Richard A. Hesel, a principal at Art & Science Group, which consults colleges on marketing.
Any college that defines itself more narrowly, as Liberty has done with its Christian mission, necessarily turns off some prospective students. But the brand is stronger for it. “There are too many places that want to be all things to all people,” Mr. Hesel says.
Export the Ethos Online
Students on Liberty’s residential campus are part of a tight-knit community. “Convocation,” for example, is a thrice-weekly event where all students come together for music, guest speakers, and prayer. Video of convocation is streamed online so that all students can participate virtually.
Know Your Market
Liberty’s online students are 36 years old on average, and they want flexibly scheduled courses with a touch of Christian values woven into the content. The university has built its programs to serve this population.
A classic case study in strategic positioning. The full article (subscription required) is here.