By DONOVAN HARRELL
The University of Pittsburgh is ramping up its communication efforts to help attract more applicants to its graduate programs.
Amanda Godley, senior vice chancellor for graduate studies, and Kate Ledger, assistant vice chancellor for marketing, along with others, are coordinating to strengthen recruitment efforts at the University.
Two new staff have been brought on board as a part of this effort. Kelly Pinzone, the new graduate marketing digital specialist, started on March 22, and Ink Young, the new graduate marketing manager, started on April 12.
These efforts come as graduate student enrollment across the U.S. has been slowly decreasing over the past decade.
Godley said competition from virtual and hybrid graduate school programs have made recruitment more difficult.
Godley added that working professionals also are increasingly looking to further their education or switch careers through certificate and master's degree programs. The University is focusing on expanding opportunities for these programs
“It’s not new, but it is definitely time to reverse that trend,” Godley said. “I think, part of our communication strategy, it’s really focused on getting out the word about what a great place Pitt is for graduate and professional studies.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made things easier. Ledger referred to a recent survey from Carnegie Dartlet that found that more than 60 percent of the undergraduates surveyed said they’re considering delaying their graduate education.
The same survey found that the respondents wanted consistent virtual communication and opportunities to connect with universities.
“Much like everything else, graduate recruitment was forced to move entirely online,” Ledger said. “Our digital presence became even more important.”
Godley said her team wants to offer “more centralized support” to Pitt’s graduate programs to help spread information about the quality of the programs and opportunities available in the Pittsburgh region.
As a part of this strategy, Ledger has helped produce video presentations for schools to use in their recruitment efforts.
Graduate Studies also is expanding its website to make it a “one-stop-shop” for graduate and professional students to find resources for fellowships, programs and more, Godley said. This website is expected to be finished sometime in the summer, she said.
Another website developed by the Office of the Provost called Degree Finder has been launched. The site will help make it easier for prospective students to find out about all of Pitt’s undergraduate, graduate, online hybrid and certificate programs.
These websites are expected to be finished sometime in the summer, she said.
Godley and Ledger have begun working with the Pitt Alumni Association to help with the recruitment efforts. Nancy Merritt, vice chancellor for alumni relations, said she is in the early stages of coming up with strategies to attract alumni back to the University to further their education.
Alumni also could provide prospective students insight into potential networking opportunities that exist with the University, Godley said.
The efforts to enhance communication aren’t limited to prospective graduate students, Godley said, as her team also is focusing on improving communications with current students.
Another part of these efforts is to help centralize Pitt’s admissions process with the Liaison admissions system, Godley said.
Schools will still be able to follow their own admissions process, but would use this system, allowing for more uniform technical support and improved capabilities for programs to recruit students and gather information about applicants that is uniform across programs and schools, she said.
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-383-9905.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.