All the UR That's Fit to Print

That's what 1.7 million New York Times readers saw April 21, when the university plastered its banner, logo and a column by the president across page A-6. It was a new type of promotion for the university, says Dan Kalmanson, associate vice president for university communications. Never before has the school run such a prominent ad in any national newspaper or magazine.

A page of the Sunday Times qualifies as an investment: A full-page ad typically costs around $80,000. But a few months ago a sales representative called the university (which had previously advertised in the Times's quarterly "Education Life") and offered the space for $32,000.

"It was too good a deal to pass up," Kalmanson says. It was timely, too, he says, because April is the month when high-school seniors receive their acceptance letters and begin agonizing over where to go, while juniors are beginning the college search.

One supposes if the ad drew even a few students to the University of Richmond, it would pay for itself — UR's estimated tuition for the 2002-3 school year is $23,700. Still, Kalmanson points out, the university has no shortage of applicants; of more than 5,800 applications received for the incoming freshman class, 2,381 were accepted for 780 spots. "We are not looking for more students," he says. "We are looking for the very best students."

Curiously, most of the ad's text consists of an "advertorial" column that mentions the University of Richmond not once. Instead, the column, "An Insider's Guide to Choosing a College," by university President William E. Cooper, offers six tips for parents in helping a son or daughter choose a college. Cooper advises parents to research a school's finances, check financial-aid offerings, read college guides and explore the campus. Written in an ostensibly impartial tone, the piece nonetheless nudges parents toward — guess where?

"To be honest," says Kalmanson, "I think if you go through there, the University of Richmond would fare very well in all of those categories."

—Melissa Scott Sinclair


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