ANA SANTOS / THE EAGLE
In a $200,000 overhaul, AU redesigned its Admissions Welcome Center for the third time in 10 years.
The new Welcome Center, still located on the second floor of the Katzen Arts Center, incorporates the “know” part of the “know/wonk” branding campaign AU debuted during the fall semester.
The new Welcome Center will be open to prospective students this Tuesday.
There is money in the budget for the next two years in the hopes of “keeping the creative approach fresh” using social media and other outlets, according to Teresa Flannery, the executive director of Communications and Marketing.
“It’s an ongoing process that can always be embellished and improved,” said Provost Scott Bass.
The 2011 draft Campus Plan proposes to build a new Welcome Center within the next 10 years on the East Campus, a proposed six-building complex on what is currently the Nebraska Parking Lot.
“If the Campus Plan is approved, the process starts off raising money, planning and building,” Flannery said. “It’s still five to seven years away at the earliest.”
It is considered the “first public launch of the University branding campaign,” according to Director of Enrollment Marketing James Raby.
“‘Wonk’ needs to be introduced to prospective students. We try not to hit them over the head with it,” Raby said. “Students at this age don’t want to be labeled, but they will label themselves.”
The planning and construction were done “in phases timed to tie in with the branding campaign,” according to Sharon Alston, executive director for Enrollment. The process began in January 2009.
The space uses different forms of technology to convey the new campaign, including videos and panoramic photos of campus.
“Our job was to take the wonk branding and make a 3D experience,” said Sarah Winkler, president of Feats, Inc., the company that designed the new space and its multimedia.
Flannery said the Welcome Center’s most recent overhaul is an original approach to a campus visit experience.
“We’re in a very competitive market. We needed something that showcased [AU],” Alston said.
Welcome Center makes AU a ‘destination’
The Welcome Center moved to Katzen in June 2009 from what is now The Perch in Centennial Hall.
Problems with the Centennial location included prospective students’ difficulty in finding the room, lack of convenient parking and its location in a residence hall, Alston said.
The main focus of the move from Centennial to Katzen was to make the center a “green room.”
The most recent renovation, inspired by the Newseum, “showcases our most beautiful facility,” Alston said.
“It makes AU a destination visit. It’s a venue that is beautiful, provides information about the University, tells a story and immerses the student in an AU experience,” Alston said.
The center seats 60 people and has a 192-inch screen, which will show a 12-minute feature that takes prospective students through the eyes of a student’s four years at AU.
There is also a 15-minute animated video that has trivia and popup information in a scene in front of Bender Library.
“This creates many ways for folks to get a taste of American University. You can truly see what four years looks like,” Winkler said.