Our success has enabled us to understand more fully the strengths and distinctive features that will define our future. Our heritage of being a high-touch, high-tech, high-quality campus that is both affordable and accessible must remain an important part of our value system. In order to sustain our uniqueness and differentiate NMU from other universities, we must be clear about our priorities and direction. Three unique themes will frame our Road Map to 2015 and beyond.
Information technologies are the critical signature of an NMU degree. The laptop culture, enhanced by new wireless technologies and portable devices, places NMU far ahead of and distinct from our competitors. Our capability to blend this expertise with digital television and public broadcasting increases both the capacity and the quality of NMU. Our instructional and technical reach becomes planetary rather than regional.
International opportunities also will become a critical feature for NMU. Students demand it, employers seek it and a relevant education cannot exclude it. Beyond study abroad, our curriculum, our faculty, our student body and our thinking must reflect the realities of an interconnected, world community. We are in a unique position to distinguish all NMU majors with significant and meaningful international experiences.
NMU's location in the Upper Peninsula is a unique asset and, as one, must become a prominent feature of our portfolio of academic programs and our research agenda. Lake Superior and the neighboring landscapes offer resources that attract students, faculty and staff and enhance a high-quality university experience. How we choose to brand and distinguish our degrees will depend in large part upon our creative use of this most prominent resource.
Communications and Marketing is conducting a comprehensive NMU brand analysis, which is nearly completed. This was a yearlong project comparing NMU's brand and brand claims (ie. one of the largest notebook computer universities in the world) with 20 other comparable schools. Factors that were looked at included: leadership, study abroad, sustainability, hands-on learning/undergraduate research, technology, average class size, student-to-faculty ratio, tuition and fees, financial aid percent awarded, financial aid average dollar amount, enrollment, most popular majors, number of majors, student demographics, students in-state vs. out-of-state, distance from metropolitan area, setting, population density in 50-mile radius, selectivity, minimum GPA, minimum ACT/SAT, housing, map location/distance. A report analyzing the data is being prepared and is scheduled to be available the first week of August. It will include some marketing recommendations based on the findings, such as strengths we have that we may not be highlighting at this time. The data is expected to reveal unrealized points of differentiation.
Against these three distinctive brushstrokes lie specific strategies that are the foundation of the Road Map to 2015 and Beyond. The Road Map is comprised of four broad elements that each have specific goals and priorities. Each is relevant to faculty, staff and students' sense of engagement with the campus; with who we are and where we're going. More importantly, the Road Map will capture how we're going to get there. We don't want to be reckless, but we also can't afford to be late.