Ithaca College

Associate Vice President, Marketing Communications (2010-2014)

  • Ithaca, NY
  • Undergraduate & graduate enrollment: 6,500
  • Founded in 1892
  • Private, comprehensive college offering studies in five schools
  • Complete rebrand grounded in market research (university + athletic).
  • Reorganized the Office of Marketing Communications from silos into a more effective, strategic team.
  • Developed crisis communication plan and processes.
  • Developed marketing annual report and monthly reports to track effectiveness of marketing efforts.
  • Received federal trademarks and established a licensing and trademark enforcement program.

Challenge

Ithaca College, a picturesque university located in the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York, needed to update its brand and attract new students. With 6,100 undergraduate and 500 graduate students, this comprehensive college had to find fresh approaches to communicating its message to key markets in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles.

Solution

From 2010-14 as the senior marketing, communication, and brand strategist, I spearheaded a broad effort to rebrand the college. This included a $1 million advertising campaign to demonstrate how Ithaca College makes students ready.

I, along with the VP of Enrollment and Communication, directed the work of two consulting firms to conduct market research and develop a new brand strategy for the college, and with their internal creative services team on creative execution and a standards guide. In the first two years of implementation, the college saw an increase of 30% in undergraduate applications.

Overseeing a team of 40, I also worked on brand management, public and media relations, social media, two magazines, athletic communications, advancement communications, client and enrollment marketing, creative services, trademark and licensing, and digital strategy. I developed the college’s first institutional strategic marketing plan, and managed annual updates and strategic marketing planning for five schools within the college. I developed a marketing annual report and monthly reports to track and measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts, to help inform future decision-making.

Rachel played an integral part in transforming the form and function of communications at Ithaca College. She led an effort to thoroughly research and reimagine the messaging platform of the institution, taking it from an accumulation of unrelated materials and elevating it to a confident and unified brand framework. Under her watch, the communications team was transformed with an infusion of talent and a diversity of skill, leading the campus to increasingly view them as a strategic partner. The results were immediate and evident in alumni engagement, prospective student interest, and institutional pride.

Eric Maguire

former VP of Enrollment and Communication, now Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Franklin & Marshall College, Ithaca College