MSU President Talks Tobacco Ban, University Marketing Shifts

Dec 17, 2014

Murray State University President Bob Davies stopped by WKMS to discuss topics ranging from a long-discussed tobacco ban to the school’s overall marketing approach.

Tobacco Ban

After months of research and community input, MSU's Board of Regents decided to implement a comprehensive campus-wide ban on all tobacco and tobacco-like products. This includes chewing tobacco, cigarettes and even e-cigarettes.

Murray State University President Bob Davies.
Credit Murray State University

In February, the administration will present to the Board of Regents the finer details of their policy that will be implemented in about a year.

“A key issue of this policy will be handling enforcement as well as some things that we've got to be cognizant of (…) I think the main thing is that we use common sense, that we understand the importance of the rule, that this is done for the safety and health of all of our students, faculty and visitors,” Davies said.

Marketing Shifts

In a Board of Regents meeting two weeks ago, market research and educational consultation firm Maguire and Associates presented a study concerning MSU’s branding. They found the college’s message of low pricing and a friendly feel has been spread effectively, but there’s a lack of getting the word out about academic quality.

Davies says before his time, administrators decided on a price-focused approach. But now, he’s looking to change it after fielding some community feedback.

“We want to position ourselves as a quality academic institution known for success of our students, known for academic rigor, known for being accessible and affordable but having key indicators of quality,” Davies said.

“I won’t call it a monumental shift, but I do believe it is a shift in our thinking and our efforts. It gets us away from going after all students but going after those students who are college ready and college prepared.”

Davies says he’s seen other schools with a similar approach finding success and even higher enrollment rates.

Another facet of the Maguire study looked at tuition. Murray State currently offers the cheapest instate rates in Kentucky. The study suggests MSU has room to potentially raise those numbers.

Organizational Restructuring

Davies recently announced the consolidation of a few MSU offices; the transfer center and undergraduate admissions have been combined and will report to him.

University Communications will also report directly to Davies. He’s established a new marketing, branding and communications position that will be filled after a national search.

The board mentioned that these changes could be used to evaluate Davies’ performance. He says he’s focused more on streamlining cooperation between university departments.

“To me, an organizational chart is a living, breathing thing. It’s not something that’s static and based on lines (…) some of these things, I think, are restructured to create synergies,” Davies said.

He added that in the current setup, the undergraduate admissions and transfer center offices weren’t necessarily gelling quite right in their work.

“We were duplicating processes.  By keeping them in distinct units but reporting under the same structure to me was very, very important,” Davies said.

Regarding the marketing position change, Davies says there’s room for improvement, something he hopes he can bring about with his past university marketing experience.

"I think there are a lot of opportunities to create a truly integrated marketing approach. Working with the individual colleges, our auxiliary services, our various entities across the campus so that we are in fact sending that one very clear strategy,” Davies said.

The change in University Communications occurs January 1st while change in enrollment structure occurs July 1.