UND Today

University of North Dakota's Official News Source

Marketing milestones

UND Provost Fora continue with updates on branding, web redevelopment and recruitment

Jason Trainer
Jason Trainer (above), UND director of admissions, took time at the latest UND Provost Forum to explain how the work of the marketing and web teams correlates to increasing recruitment. Photo by Shawna Schill.

The UND Marketing & Creative Services team can get the attention of a crowd. If you want a group to hear your message, hit them with what they love most – trivia and prizes.

Senior Graphic Designer Jes Kinneberg climbed the auditorium steps of Education Building Room 7 with a Fighting Hawks bag in hand, a Hawks shirt tucked inside.

“UND Professor Thomasine Heitkamp was awarded a $3.8 million grant to fight this this crisis in North Dakota,” she posed to the crowd, handing off the swag to the correct guesser.

“This is work related,” Art Director and Brand Manager Carrie Huwe with a grin,” because we’re doing this at some home games for Volleyball, Hockey, and Men’s and Women’s Basketball, trying to get that athletics audience to hear about our academic successes.”

This is just one of the ways the team is telling the story of UND’s Leaders in Action – the unified brand message that will guide University’s marketing and recruitment efforts.

Marketing and Admissions drove discussion at the Oct. 12 Provost Forum. Huwe began with an overview of UND’s new brand promise, established from a vast online survey of UND stakeholders that received more than 4,600 responses.

“What we developed from the survey were four brand pillars,” she said, as the words North Dakota, Doers, Ready, and Impact were projected next to her. “These are going to be the building blocks that define who we are.”

Brand execution

Huwe then turned to Tera Buckley, assistant marketing director of web and digital strategies, to lay out the execution plan.

Buckley said the public will see a lot more of the Leaders in Action message in the next couple of months, in the form of digital and static billboards, signage and banners on campus, trivia at athletic events (as demonstrated), video ads on TV, and new recruitment materials.

UND is ramping up its efforts in digital marketing, with a focus on academic programs that have been deemed priority through a review process with college deans.

Buckley also explained that her team is leveraging social media on the UND website with #UNDproud, replacing last year’s #myUND.

“What we’ve noticed is that #UNDproud is just organically taking over,” she said. “People are using it for athletics, but they’re also using it to showcase their pride for the academic side of the house. So we decided to just push #UNDproud and make that our main hashtag.”

One of the biggest projects is the redevelopment of UND.edu. Buckley said they have nearly had to “start over” in terms design and structure, and they’ve started a blog to track the progress.

A new governance structure will be established for what is approved for the site. Buckley said right now, there is no solid management structure, resulting in redundant pages, outdated information and fragmented design.

“The big difference that is going to happen here is there is now a publisher who checks all content before going live,” she said.

Buckley also gave a design preview of the new site, which incorporates the Leaders in Action branding and more user-friendly program pages. A wave of new website page launches will start in April 2018.

Recruitment goals

Jason Trainer, UND director of admissions, explained how the work of the marketing and web teams correlates to increasing recruitment.

“Typically, about 30 percent of your inquiry pool should come from your online website. Historically, UND has generated less that 10 percent based on that,” he said. “That gives you an indication of what type of improvement an updated website will be.”

Trainer added that they are not only looking to increase the quantity of the fall 2018 incoming class, but also its academic quality and diversity.

To do that, Admissions will focus on four action items – utilizing parents, alumni and faculty in the recruitment process; utilizing data to improve admissions representative efficiency; increasing focus on transfer programming; and strengthening relationships with key influencers – high school counselors and advisors.

“We need very intentional efforts to really get [counselors] to have a positive message when they think of UND,” Trainer said. “So we will have monthly outreaches and newsletters that go to these individuals, as well as annual events to share the exciting things happening at UND.”

Staff & faculty recruitment

When UND Provost Tom DiLorenzo opened the forum for questions, both Erin O’Leary, Energy and Environmental Research Center chief financial officer, and Biology Professor Bill Sheridan had similar inquiries.

They wanted to know, in addition to student recruitment efforts, what was being done to recruit quality staff and faculty.

“We are working more in that area. [VP for Finance and Operations Alice Brekke] and I have partnered to look more at talent management,” DiLorenzo said. “We’re seeing how we can build the pipelines and find those individuals.”

DDoS website attack

John Shabb, associate Professor of biomedical sciences, asked for an update on the recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that targeted the UND website earlier in the week, making it inaccessible for a little more than 24 hours to those outside of the UND network – including prospective students and their families.

Lead Web Application Developer Nathan Clough was in the crowd to field the question.

“It’s still being investigated, but we have no clues as to why the attack occurred, or the source of the attack,” he said. “A DDoS attack is basically a flooding of the board, so nobody else can get in.”

“It was bad timing for us,” said Trainer. “This is a key period for us for students signing up for events and applying … We were happy it was resolved so quickly.”

The Provost’s fora will continue to be held in Education Building Room 7 from 3:30-4:30p.m. The dates and topics are listed below.


  • October 26 – Strategic Plan Goals 1 and 2
  • November 9 – Strategic Plan Goals 3 and 6
  • November 30 – Strategic Plan Goals 4 and 5
  • December 14 – Budget and MIRA