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Crimson White Online

November 12, 2004

Image survey connects University, fried chicken
by Stephen Dawkins
Senior Staff Reporter

Do you consider yourself to be more like a soy burger or fried chicken?

This question was included in an image survey sent to some UA students in an effort to get students to compare the University with other peer institutions, such as the University of Georgia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The University paid New South Research, a Birmingham-based research group, $5,000 to help with the preparation of the survey and the tabulation of the results, said UA spokeswoman Jan Duvall. She said New South provided some of its services for free.

University officials have taken image surveys since the 1980s, but this year's survey is different.

"The difference between this survey and ones in the past is that we ask comparison questions," Duvall said.

Respondents were asked to rank themselves, the University and other universities as more similar to one of a pair of ideas, such as a Ford or a BMW, the YMCA or a country club and New York City or Mayberry.

Duvall, who said she thought of the soy burger-fried chicken question, said these types of questions are standard when trying to determine people's perception of something like a university.

Duvall said the survey not only provides clues about the Capstone's image, but also attempts to discover what the UA community expects out of the University.

Another difference in this year's survey is that it was sent to UA students, faculty, staff, UA President Robert Witt's Cabinet and alumni leadership. In the past, UA officials surveyed the general public in Alabama.

Previous surveys were conducted over the telephone, and the Capstone Poll or the Institute for Communication Research usually assisted the Office of University Relations.

Duvall said officials would review the results of the survey and "look for disconnections between constituents and the University."

"[After attaining the results of the survey], we would look at our marketing strategies and see what they address," she said.

UA officials prepared the survey in conjunction with New South Research, a division of Sullivan-St. Clair Marketing and Public Relations.

This agency sponsored the appearance of three elephants at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house during Homecoming weekend [click here for related story].

The University has hired the agency to "assist with branding and marketing for the University, the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration and the College of Continuing Studies," according to the agency's Web site.

Sullivan-St. Clair will help UA officials purchase advertisements in different media for the University. The agency has already bought advertisement space for the Culverhouse College of Business Administration in BizEd magazine and plans to run more advertisements in other publications, including Business Alabama, The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report.

Heather Shorr, a senior majoring in fitness management, said she thinks of herself more as fried chicken than a soy burger because "soy burgers are kind of boring." She also said she thought the University was like fried chicken.

She said she didn't have time to fill out the survey because it seemed too long to her.

Sarah Baker, a senior majoring in human development, said the University is more like fried chicken because it is "greasy." She also did not fill out the survey.

Brian Von Hagel, a junior majoring in business management, said he did not fill out the survey, but on the Ford-BMW comparison question, he said he thinks of the University as a Ford.

"I think of myself more as a fine-tuned BMW," he said. "These questions are kind of ridiculous," he added



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