All DU Alums and Stakeholders Can Participate in DU’s New Brand Survey

We reported recently here about DU’s new brand survey, which includes a question probing the favorability of the term ‘Pioneers’ as it relates to DU. While our sources indicate DU initially only sent this survey out to 5,000 alumni, the DU Advancement Office has indicated that other voices are acceptable to take the survey, so we’ve included the link below.  Let your voices be heard!

There is also information on further follow-up workshops to be conducted by DU. Click Here for the Survey Link.

Here is the original letter from DU that accompanied the survey:

Dear alumni,

As a follow up to the Alumni Attitudes Survey results that you received last week, it is my pleasure to invite you to participate in another important project underway at the University of Denver. This project will help us clarify and define “who we are” in a compelling way that will separate us from other universities and position us for growth in enrollment, awareness and reputation for the institution.

Under the direction of the Division of Marketing & Communications, the University has retained Carnegie Dartlet—a leading reputation strategy firm—in a comprehensive research and review of our brand, market position, and identity. Their peer-reviewed personality archetyping methodology has been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education and has helped build the reputation of dozens of colleges and universities nationwide.


With the anticipation of an enrollment cliff in the next few years, we began in earnest this past fall to understand how to react with the greatest impact to ensure the University thrives in the future. The emergence of COVID-19 has only accelerated the need to launch this effort. While our recruiting brings more than 60 percent of our students from outside the state, a recent study identified that awareness of DU’s defining features or characteristics does not reach prospective students and families that live outside Colorado. As we build our reputation and recognition outside of Colorado, we also need to draw more students within the state—and we need to do this now.

Our last effort of this type was completed in 2012. Industry standards recommend a comprehensive brand review every seven to 10 years, making now the ideal time for our University. The project will take several months to complete and will culminate in a new reputation strategy and communication platform for the institution this fall. This will enable DU to implement a new identity and brand strategy to recruit our fall class of 2021.


As with the feedback you have provided to date, this project will only succeed with your involvement. Carnegie Dartlet’s method is entirely built around the input of the people who know DU the best. If you’re interested, here is how you can help:

1. Take this 10-to-15 minute online survey. We need your help to discover and define “who” DU is and, most importantly, who we want to be in the future.

2. Sign up to participate in a virtual messaging workshop. Add your unique voice to shape the next 10 years of DU strategy. These workshops will take what was learned from the survey to develop the story DU will tell about itself for years to come. We will conduct 12 two-hour and highly interactive virtual workshops the week of July 20th, 2020.

Your voice is absolutely essential to the success of this important work. You are welcome to participate in either of the research methods above, but we encourage you to participate in both if your schedule allows. Our goal is to move the University forward, rise in the rankings, penetrate markets more deeply, build a robust student pipeline and create an authentic narrative that resonates with all of our audiences—students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Thank you for your support. If you have any questions, please email


Brandon Buzbee

Brandon Buzbee

Associate Vice Chancellor, Global Networks


11 thoughts on “All DU Alums and Stakeholders Can Participate in DU’s New Brand Survey”

    1. Not a mistake, I am sure. You would never put this on a study unless you were considering a change. By slipping it quietly into the survey it could go under the radar. And remember, “If just one person is offended…”

  1. I predict the administration will continue to do smoke and mirror “surveys” hoping to get a lukewarm reaction to the Pioneer name and use that to justify in their own minds a reason to to change the name to something more PC.

  2. No worries, we have a pandemic going on, but spend more time and money on this pesky Pioneer issue. 45 Million dollar shortfall, but invest more energy and dollars on this. Keep throwing more money at it , so you can change the name and lose even more money from Alumni who stop donating!

  3. Do the upcoming freshman have places to stay yet? Or is it called rising first years, or whatever…. School needs to figure out who they are I guess. YIKES. Leadership at the top level has been LAZY.

  4. I don’t think DU is lazy. There are trying like hell to keep the place afloat in a perfect storm of Covid-19, financial, and social turbulence. They are also facing an upcoming admissions cliff that will see the national undergrad applicant pool dropping pretty dramatically in the coming years due to the birthrate, making brand and differentiation very important. This brand study is routine has been planned for a while, and the administration wanted to have some kind of updated brand in place to recruit the class of 2025, which enters DU in 2021, so that’s why they are doing it now.

    It doesn’t really cost any more to tack on a question about ‘Pioneers’ as they contemplate the future, so they did…

    That said, there are a number of people pushing DU towards greater appeal to minority and first generation applicants because those parts of the declining applicant pool are seen potential growth areas. A portion of these people also want DU to reflect a more diverse America, and some of them disdain DU’s history of being a largely white and affluent school, preferring those opportunities going to those they see as more deserving, and thus balancing the scale of social justice. They would love to see DU become the next Metro State in terms of diversity. DU is thus caught between a social tide on one hand, and a financial tide on the other…

    That’s no easy task for a private school with a middling endowment. I would counsel DU to make sure it’s also appealing to traditional applicants and their families, because DU is nearly 80% dependent on tuition, and it’s that tuition revenue that enables minority/first gen recruitment. That also means protecting the alumni base, and making sure DU is remains appealing to a wide variety of audiences, especially those with financial choice. That’s the Board of Trustees’ responsibility to maintain DU’s financial viability and future. Let’s hope they choose wisely…

  5. Oh my god, when you hear DU is trying to become the next Metro State of something, it is no wonder we have been falling in the rankings. Nothing wrong with Metro…it is an excellent school for what it does. But when DU identity chases, and tries to enter the realm of what Metro does, it demonstrates a staggering level of naivety that gives me no hope for our school. Swami, I truly hope you were exaggerating. DU’s mission should be to become much more selective (no matter the skin color of the applicant) and enter the top 50 national schools. They were on that path, and have since struggled to stay on the top hundred. Parents pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to send their kids to presigious private schools, not schools who pretend to be diverse and fall in the national rankings.

  6. I thought my comments about becoming the next Metro State were clear that DU would like the DIVERSITY of Metro State. To be more specific, DU wants a campus that reflects that national array of skin colors and ethnicities, as well as more representatives of historically marginalized groups, especially first generation students. This year the DU freshman class will be 26% people of color, assuming everyone shows up in Denver in the fall.

    I certainly did NOT mean to imply that DU wanted the academic profile of Metro State.

    As to academics, DU has been backsliding for the last 10 years or so in the USNews rankings. I think a big part of that backslide has to with institututional priorities. DU’s real focus has been on diversifying itself, rather than boosting the academic profile.

  7. I like to think about the issue as a passenger jet. First class and business class pay the highest fare and special deals go to economy. Well, premium seating is shrinking and economy is growing. It is a catch 22 with tuition that few can afford and changing financial and ethnic demographic.

  8. July 16th 2020
    “DivestU is Turning Point’s most aggressive project yet to combat rampant Leftism at universities by striking colleges where they are most vulnerable: their wallets,
    “Our colleges have become centers of activist training, not academics of higher learning or places where diverse ideas can be meaningfully discussed,” he said.

    “Our universities now pose a significant threat to the future of our Republic and this effort aims to motivate decent, reasonable philanthropists and donors to divest their dollars from these incubators of leftist radical ideology,” Kirk said.

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