Your Emmanuel Today
"When you put your hand in the flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come." - Leonardo da Vinci
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Your Emmanuel Today
Does the word "exciting" describe your first day at Emmanuel College? Of course it does, no matter what year that was. Do the words "alive" and "vibrant" describe the campus? Yes, again, no matter what your age. How about the word "coed?" Or the phrase "involved in state-of-the-art medical research?"
The first classes that can relate to all of the above descriptors just joined the ranks of the alumni last spring. And the first-year students who entered this fall will add new dimensions to the Emmanuel College experience.
In short, your Emmanuel today is firmly rooted in the values and traditions that have been a part of the character of the college since 1919 but make no mistake, to the entering Class of 2010, this is not your mother's Emmanuel College.
To today's students, Emmanuel College is successfully and solidly coed. That decision, so revolutionary just a few years ago, is now a fully-accepted and unquestioned part of who we are. The record enrollment that has followed has meant increased competition for admission. While the walls of the residence hall living rooms still hear the late night hopes and dreams of untold students, today there's an all-campus living room: the strikingly contemporary Jean Yawkey Center.
There's also a new academic excitement among both faculty and students as new faculty appointments and our first endowed professorship have brought new perspectives to campus and stimulated our intellectual environment. Internships and research have become increasingly momentous and exciting for both students and faculty. This is Emmanuel College to the current population of students, faculty and administration, which is not to say that they take it for granted.
The changes of the last few years that brought us to this point have been discussed in faculty meetings, debated in the residence halls and well-documented in past issues of this magazine. They all ended with one simple question: Who are we?
In the midst of sweeping change, how do you put your hand in the flowing stream and describe it to the world?
This was the issue on facing the administration of Emmanuel College as the leaves left the trees along The Fenway and the winds swept around the old stones of the Administration Building in the late fall of 2005. Sister Janet Eisner, SND knew it was time to put a hand in the flowing stream of change and produce communications that articulated what Emmanuel College was today. Despite all of the excitement around the new Emmanuel College, this was a daunting task.
But Sister Janet took the lead in providing inspiration and direction. Sitting on Sister Janet's desk one blustery day last fall was a well-worn copy of a report called A Strategic Approach to Research-Based Branding. It was produced by Maguire Associates, a research-based consultancy group which specializes in the special issues of marketing educational organizations.
The report summarized a year's findings among 2,730 prospective undergraduates, admitted students, current undergraduates, current Graduate Studies students, undergraduate alumni, Graduate Studies alumni, Emmanuel administrators, faculty, staff and trustees, as well as selected opinion and community leaders. Its purpose was to examine the internal and external perceptions of Emmanuel College with a goal of marketing the College to future students, to its own community and to the greater community in which Emmanuel lives. It was important to begin with an understanding of how Emmanuel was perceived in the marketplace, where consensus and dissonance existed in the current communications and how well the College's messages were supporting its admissions, fundraising and recruiting goals.
The good news was that there was a lot of good news. Students, faculty and staff were happy and satisfied with the College. There was a high recognition that Emmanuel College was a strong, personalized, supportive learning environment. The report echoed the comments that the Admissions Office heard consistently, that Boston was a strong draw for many undergraduates and that the quality of the faculty and academic majors were important assets. Remarkably, after so short a time as a coed institution, Emmanuel was not viewed as a "women's college." Not surprisingly, it was clear that faculty and staff held students in high regard. And that Emmanuel was seen as evolving and improving.
But there was room for improvement, as well. There was a gap between perception and reality in a number of key areas that pointed the way to communication needs. There was a need to communicate the academic rigor of the College. There was a need to showcase the new academic facilities and technology. There was a need to describe to future students a sense of the "value" of an Emmanuel College education. A need to increase students' confidence that Emmanuel was preparing them well for the future. And a need to clarify the Emmanuel College identity and niche in the marketplace. It was a comprehensive report, but the new enrollment cycle was fast approaching.
The first step toward creating new materials was a clear and simple statement of the essence of Emmanuel, a single piece of paper around which the marketing and other messages could be developed. As methodical and reasoned as each decision for change had been, and despite all the research, data and discussion that had occurred, the resulting flux still begged the question: Who are we? This was a question that needed an emotional response, not just a strategic one. Sister Janet called on someone with a fresh perspective to listen and then step back and help articulate the promise of Emmanuel in a tone that was both honest to the realities of the College and inspirational, reflecting the aspirations of the leadership of the College and its community.
Gail Schoenbrunn, an independent branding consultant and copywriter, was called in to listen, to look and then to craft a statement of identity, the final version of which you see on the previous page. It was a reflection of core ideas and ideals some of which had existed since the beginning of Emmanuel College and some of which were part of the new direction. It was a statement of belief and intent that only Emmanuel College could say and much of the language would as be familiar to students of 20 years ago as it was to those of today.
This was a defining statement, and as intrinsic as many of the ideas were to the fabric of the College, this was clearly not a statement that could be embraced without consensus amongst all the constituencies of the community. To that end, the statement was presented and discussed at not one, but two separate faculty sessions, where faculty both old and new aired healthy debate and helpful comments. The message was also presented to the student government during a regular meeting of the full body. Once again, comments were solicited and enthusiasm was high. The statement was also shared with the Board of Trustees, who approved its direction after discussion in the January meeting.
It was time to take the next step, to turn this statement into a meaningful piece of communication for recruitment: an all-encompassing viewbook, quickly followed by additional admissions materials.
Even in today's Internet-driven world, the traditional viewbook is the main source of information for a prospective student and his or her parents and guardians. It is one communication from the College likely to sit on the kitchen table, amid a dozen other options, ready to be thumbed through by any member of the family.
In the spring of 2006, the design firm Philographica was hired to help produce the admissions materials and the web-design firm BigBad was tapped to begin the process of re-designing the College's web site. Time was short, the goal was new printed admissions materials by the end of the summer. And the goal was met.
As the first produced piece of marketing communications, the viewbook represented a hand in the stream, touching the last that had gone before and the first of what is to come. It was quickly understood that this would be a more substantial viewbook than most, comprehensive in scope and specific in detail. Indeed, it has turned out to be so. Extensive interviews with current students and faculty were conducted, and new photography was taken, all which resulted in the viewbook profiles which are reproduced here. Every design and content decision made was in support of the goal at hand: to accurately reflect Emmanuel College today. A simple shot of the old stone of the Administration Building reflected in the new glass of the Jean Yawkey Center tells a story of the mix of tradition and new opportunity at Emmanuel today.
As you are reading this article, the first copies of the viewbooks have arrived to prospective students, the ones who are yet to come, yet to make their mark on this wonderful community. Under the theme "This is your place," the viewbook describes Emmanuel today. It shares the stories of students Susan Aguiar '06 and Dorothy Shanahan-Roberge '07. It lets prospective students meet Professor of Psychology Michael St. Clair and Assistant Professor of Art Megumi Naitoh. It presents the extraordinary experience of Forum Raval '07, Casey Vallot '07 who spent two and a half years working with Dr. Josef Kurtz, Assistant Professor of Biology, on a bone marrow transplant research at world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital, research that could make a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world.
The viewbook promises that this is your place to sharpen your mind with academics, to free your spirit with activities and athletics and to unleash your potential with powerful real-world experiences from internships to service learning to opportunities for study abroad.
Sister Janet proposes that if you believe, as we do, that education empowers, transforms and open doors; if you challenge yourself, as we do, to act, to lead and to give generously to others; if you insist, as we do, that the world of ideas demands diversity, then this is your place. It is as inspirational and as exciting as the College itself.
A lot of it will feel familiar. And a lot of it will feel new. It is the flowing stream, your Emmanuel today, as exciting, alive and vibrant as ever and eagerly looking forward to what is still to come.