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Drexel University launches new online partnership

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Drexel University Online, winner of the 2006 21st Century Best Practice Award for Distance Learning from the United States Distance Learning Association, recently announced an educational partnership with Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (LVH), one of the nation’s top hospitals in eight specialty care delivery areas, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s 2006 edition of “America’s Best Hospitals.”

Through this alliance, Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network employees will have the opportunity to complete online degrees or certificate programs through Drexel and receive special tuition rates. Employees will be able to choose from a range of Bachelor’s, Master’s and certificate programs that Drexel offers online in areas such as nursing and health professions, clinical research, public health, information science, business, computer science, communications and computing technology.

Drexel University Online has been expanding its partner network for the past four years. Through a partnership with Drexel, participating corporations, health systems and professional associations across the U.S. are able to offer their employees and members benefits such as special tuition rates and career development opportunities, as well as the chance to earn a degree, all with the flexibility working professionals need.

“A well-educated workforce is a competitive advantage for health systems today,” said Dr. Kenneth Hartman, Academic Director of Drexel University Online. “Organizations have been selecting Drexel as their preferred online education provider because they know that our programs reflect the same high standards as those on-campus, but offer the convenience busy professionals desire. We look forward to this new venture with Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network and in assisting them in meeting the educational needs of their employees.”

About Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network:
Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (LVH) offers practicing professionals a vast array of services and expertise to meet the healthcare needs of their patients. LVH is represented by three clinical campuses in Pennsylvania – two in Allentown and one in Bethlehem. It ranks as one of the nation’s top hospitals in eight specialty care delivery areas in the 2006 U.S. News & World Report guide to “America’s Best Hospitals,” more than LVH or any other hospital in the region has ever achieved.

About Drexel University Online:
Drexel University Online, winner of the 2006 21st Century Best Practice Award for Distance Learning from the United States Distance Learning Association, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Drexel University, specializing in innovative, Internet-based distance education programs for working professionals and corporations in the United States and abroad. A pioneer in online education, Drexel has offered programs online since 1996.

Capella University awards $50,000 in scholarships to injured service members

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Capella University, an accredited online university, has awarded five $10,000 scholarships to service members wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Spirit of Capella Scholarships for Injured Service Members may be applied to any of Capella’s online degree programs. Approximately 15 percent of Capella students are members of the military.

The scholarship recipients include three Ph.D students, one Master’s degree student, and one Bachelor’s degree student. They are:

Major Patrick Beyer of Berlin, Wis. – Operations and Training Officer, Recruiting and Retention Command, Wisconsin Army National Guard
Ronald Cross of Westminster, Colo. – IC1/SS/SW/DV Cross, U.S. Navy (retired)
Sergeant Cherie Davis-Keeter of Attleboro, Mass. – U.S. Army (retired)
First Sergeant Michael Martin of West Long Branch, N.J. – U.S. Army (retired)
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick D. O’Farrell of Bettendorf, Iowa – U.S. Army (retired)

In his scholarship application, Martin stated, “The Capella educational experience has afforded me the opportunity to remain in my home with my children as I receive my education. After being away from my family for two years while serving my country in Iraq, it is valued time we have all been looking forward to.”

The scholarships will be distributed evenly over the next eight quarters and were available to service members from any branch of the U.S. military who have received a “Rating Decision” memo of 20 percent disability or higher from the Veterans Administration as a result of being wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. Capella will offer the scholarships annually, with applications accepted in the fall.

“As a university with a significant number of students who are members of the military, Capella is committed to doing its part to support those men and women who have given so much in service to our country,” said Jim Landerkin, Capella’s Federal Program Manager.

About Capella University
Founded in 1993, Capella University is an accredited,* fully online university that offers graduate degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology and Bachelor’s degree programs in business and information technology. Within those areas, Capella offers 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 16 certificate programs. The online university currently serves 16,300 students from all 50 states and 63 countries. It is committed to providing high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth. Capella University is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit http://www.capella.edu or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

*Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; 30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504, (312) 263-0456, www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org.

Direct Mail: It’s ALIVE!

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Contrary to popular opinion, Direct Mail is NOT dead. Direct Mail has changed. While Direct Mail has generally lost its luster as a mass-marketing, lead-generation source, it still offers pockets of opportunity if used properly. Here are some considerations when using Direct Mail:

Direct Mail continues to provide one of the best CPLs and CPSs in more rural areas
Direct Mail works better in markets with lower unemployment rates
Direct Mail works better when married up with e-mail and contact center calling
Direct Mail works better when using smaller, more specialized lists (micro-mailings)
Direct Mail is extraordinarily effective as a remarketing vehicle
Direct Mail creative should focus on phone and e-mail responses to help conversions, though 50-60% of the respondents will still use the reply card
Direct Mail follow up must be diligent and at different times of day … consider a contact center to call and transfer live leads
Direct Mail creative must be tested against a control piece
Direct Mail does NOT convert well when using ONLY surveys

It’s not time to bury Direct Mail … it is time to re-learn how to use it effectively.

PlattForm announces 3 executive-level promotions

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PlattForm recently announced the promotions of three senior executives to new positions within the company. Dave Admire will serve as the company’s President, Tracy Kreikemeier will become Chief Marketing Officer, and Sean Pittman will serve as Vice President of Sales. These new promotions will help PlattForm achieve its goals for aggressive growth in the coming year.

Dave Admire, President, has been with PlattForm for nine years and will retain his responsibilities as Chief Interactive Officer in addition to his new duties. As President, he will be responsible for working with the management of each department to ensure clients’ needs are being met and surpassed. Admire’s previous titles include Media Buyer, Media Director, Vice President of Media and Chief Interactive Officer.

Tracy Kreikemeier, considered one of the preeminent voices in direct-response advertising and marketing within the education sector, has been with PlattForm for six and a half years and was formerly the Vice President of Client Services. As Chief Marketing Officer, she will continue to work with clients and departments within PlattForm, lead new product development, and speak as an industry expert at investor conferences as well as state and national education conferences. Kreikemeier’s previous titles include Media Analyst, Account Coordinator, Account Executive, Senior Account Executive and Director of Client Services.

Sean Pittman, Vice President of Sales, has been with PlattForm for four years and was formerly the Sales Manager. As Vice President of Sales, he will be responsible for maintaining and leading the company’s career college sales division. In addition to his role as Sales Manager, Pittman has also served as a Marketing Strategist for PlattForm.

About PlattForm
PlattForm is a full-service Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations firm specializing in creative solutions for higher education and all branches of the U.S. military. Boasting an internal creative staff of more than 250 industry professionals, the Kansas City-based agency provides Admissions Support, Lead Generation, Creative Services, Public Relations and Contact Center services. These services enable PlattForm to target a given demographic through various communications methods – television, radio, print, Internet, direct mail and telemarketing.

Balance of Higher Power – Is a Democratic-controlled Congress something career colleges should fear?

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Fear not … or, at least, not yet.

Those are the sentiments from within the career college sector after the power shift on Capitol Hill following November’s midterm election.

On Nov. 9, when the tallies from Virginia’s voting machines were final, it was clear: Democrats had secured both the House and the Senate. There was the expected reaction among investors: numerous for-profit education companies closed lower on the stock market and have since rebounded.

What wasn’t so predictable was the long-range impact new leadership would have on career colleges, which have flourished under Republican-controlled government. The investment community wasted no time in analyzing the power shift and its potential long-term impact on career colleges. In a note to investors, which was widely publicized by the Associated Press, BMO Capital Markets analyst Jeffrey M. Silber said the change in guard could halt progress that has been made to date on the Higher Education Act. Career college executives, on the other hand, are more reticent.

The act, which has been lumbering toward the finish line of line of approved reauthorization since May 5, 2004, governs many areas of education finance. In Congress’ last term, Republicans did not fully reauthorize the Higher Education Act, leaving the door open for Democrats to change the laws.

New rule
The “90/10” rule is one critical element involved in reauthorization. This stipulation requires for-profit colleges to generate at least 10 percent of their revenue from sources excluding federal financial aid. In both the House and Senate versions, the “90/10” rule has been extended to include not-for-profit institutions. The proposal has Republican support in the House, while reaction among Democrats has been lukewarm.

If the rule is expanded to not-for-profits, it could benefit the sector by reducing some of the competition facing career colleges. However, if Democrats reject the 90/10 rule, career college stock value could decline. While those predictions could hold true, those affiliated with the career college sector are saying it’s too soon to tell exactly what the threats are, or if they exist at all.

“We have a group of students we need to protect, and it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats or Republicans,” said Dr. Art Keiser, founder and Chancellor of Keiser University. “Whenever you have a change in power, you have change … and change is uncomfortable. As a sector, we need to get out and advocate our case to the people in power and the ones who understand our students.”

Keiser said Democratic control could yield some benefits to career colleges. At the top of the Democrats’ agenda is making higher education more affordable. The party’s American Dream Initiative sets its sights on improving life for middle America, which includes access to higher education. The Democrats are calling for the implementation of several measures, such as the lowering of student loan interest rates, increasing Pell grant amounts from $4,000 to $5,000, and instituting a $3,000 tuition tax credit.

Keeping watch
One area the sector should keep tabs on in the Democratic initiative is reductions to student cost and potential decreases in lender profits. Keiser said drastic changes to lender profits could take the sector back to the late 80s and early 90s, before the advent of direct lending.

In 1993, the implementation of the Student Loan Reform Act enabled students to borrow directly through colleges to receive their federal student loans. Direct lending removes the proverbial “middle-man” from the equation of applying for and receiving student loans, allowing students to obtain education loans without using a bank, credit union or private lender.

“Anytime there is a profitability issue with lenders – whenever they feel a squeeze – logically, they look at the best students on paper: the students who are more profitable in the longer term and have lower default rates. Obviously that puts one-year and two-year programs at risk.”

Such a grim fate could be offset by career college sector executives, said Jonathan Slade, a principal at The Cormac Group who focuses on higher education and for-profit colleges. Slade said career colleges must begin clarifying their mission and clearing the slate on any negative impressions Democratic officeholders could have.

“The growth of career colleges and its impact on traditional colleges, like community colleges, has been poorly portrayed,” Slade said. “A lot of forprofit schools have been very aggressive in terms of marketing. There are so many new career schools, a lot more students and some schools out there breaking rules and receiving bad press. Those issues and the supposed negative impacts they’ve had on traditional colleges raise concerns for Democrats. They just don’t really agree with (career colleges) on the issues right now.”

In that regard, 2007 stands to be a critical year for career colleges in regaining any ground that was lost in the election. Until then, the sector will remain on relatively uncertain terms.

“The for-profits supporters tend to be Republican,” Keiser said. “Those who are our friends, we need to continue to support. Those who are not our friends, we need to educate.”

Out of the Fire – How one woman’s story is changing lives

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If there is one universal truth to childhood, it’s that there is a space under a child’s bed where secrets are stuffed like pennies in a piggybank.

Drexel University and STV establish online educational partnership

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Drexel University Online, winner of the U.S. Distance Learning Association’s 2006 21st Century Best Practice for Distance Learning Award, recently launched an educational partnership with STV, an award-winning professional services firm specializing in the areas of engineering, architecture, planning, transportation, environmental, and construction management.

Through this partnership, Drexel will offer over 1,500 STV employees the opportunity to take courses online while enjoying reduced rates. STV employees will earn the same Drexel University degree that students receive on campus, but without the commute to campus or career interruption. Employees can choose from a range of Bachelor’s, Master’s and Certificate programs that Drexel offers online in areas such as business, engineering, computer science, computing technology and information science.

Drexel University Online has been continually expanding its partner network for the past four years. Through a partnership with Drexel, participating corporations, health systems, schools and associations across the United States are able to offer their employees and members such benefits as special tuition rates and career development opportunities, as well as the chance to earn a reputable degree all with the flexibility working professionals need.

“With the help of technology, working adults are revolutionizing the way education is delivered,” said Dr. Kenneth Hartman, academic director of Drexel University Online. “With the convenience and ease of the Internet today, Drexel University Online ensures students receive the most convenient education available and that it is delivered with the same quality as on-campus. We look forward to solidifying this partnership with STV while continuing to innovate online education as a primary educational choice of the future.”

About STV:
STV is an award-winning professional firm offering engineering, architecture, planning, transportation, environmental and construction management services through its companies STV Incorporated, STV Construction, Inc., and STV Architects. Their major markets include transportation, environmental, infrastructure and planning, construction services, buildings and facilities, and industrial and technical services sectors. STV ranks 56th overall in Engineering News Record’s list of the Top 500 Design Firms and 28th in the Top 100 “Pure Designers.” Ranked 12th among ENR’s Top 50 in transportation, STV Group is number 5 among the Top 20 in mass transit and rail, 15 in the Top 25 in bridges, and 24 among the Top 24 in highways. In the general building category, STV ranked 9 among the Top 25 in education and 94 in the Top 150 Global Design Firms. To learn more, please visit www.stvinc.com.

About Drexel University Online:
Drexel University Online is a wholly owned subsidiary of Drexel University, specializing in innovative, Internet-based distance education programs for working professionals and corporations in the U.S. and abroad. A pioneer in online education, Drexel has offered programs online since 1996. For more information on forming an educational partnership with Drexel University Online please call (877) 215-0009.

Academy of Art University welcomes Dr. Jamie Williams

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Academy of Art University recently welcomed Dr. Jamie Williams as the new Athletic Director. Dr. Williams has always been an artist as well as an athlete; his aim is to promote this same diversity of pursuits in students. You may remember him best from his 12-year career in the NFL as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Oilers, Los Angeles Raiders, and Arizona Cardinals, but a Super Bowl Championship isn’t the only major accomplishment under his belt.

Dr. Williams has parlayed his successful football career and his natural creativity into a variety of rewarding endeavors since his retirement from the League. While completing a Doctorate in Education with a focus on Management Theory from the University of San Francisco, he teamed with Oliver Stone in August 1995 to create the controversial hit film Any Given Sunday, featuring Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and James Woods. The film was released in late 1999 with Dr. Williams serving as technical advisor, actor and writer.

Dr. Williams is also the Founder and CEO for the independent film company YMotion Media, Inc., which produces sports entertainment. He has written several screenplays, produced two documentaries, and written and directed a series of sports-related film shorts as part of San Francisco’s bid presentation to host the 2012 Summer Olympic games.

Impressed with his motivational spirit and articulate nature, several organizations have called on Dr. Williams to be a keynote speaker for their non-profit, educational and corporate events. Dr. Williams has also conducted multiple coaching clinics and has been invited to speak to athletes at top sports organizations. While in the NFL, he earned accolades for his humanitarian efforts, twice winning his team’s Man of the Year Award.

Academy of Art University is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jamie Williams to their team and cannot wait to see where his contributions will take the school.

Academy of Art University is an accredited member of ACICS, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Formerly FIDER), (BFA-IAD), and NAAB (M-ARCH).

Branding vs. Direct-Response – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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Often clients ask about our philosophy regarding branding vs. direct-response. The underlying assumption is that there is a necessary distinction between the two strategies. We beg to differ. In fact, we believe that deciding between branding and direct-response is like deciding between tires and a steering wheel.

Regardless of what you may think, believe, or have been told by other ad agencies, direct-response is not preclusive of branding. In fact, we would assert that all direct-response commercials “brand.”
My favorite definition of branding is:

The symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a product or service. A brand typically includes a name, logo, images, symbols, sound effects or slogans. It also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service, which typically arises in the minds of customers and employees.

So does the very fact that you choose to show a phone number and URL, as well as suggesting the customer call now, mean that branding is not taking place? Of course not.

By utilizing common images, symbols, sound effects or slogans, you are enhancing recall, while the commercials themselves present the information connected with a product or service while encompassing the set of expectations associated with a product or service, which typically arises in the minds of customers and employees.

As long as you are using these tactics, you are practicing the strategy of branding. As long as you are telling the consumer to take action and providing them with the method(s), you are practicing the strategy of direct-response.

Do NOT be deceived … the only choice you NEED to make is to get rid of any agency who tries to convince you that branding vs. direct-response is an either/or proposition.

Capella University Ph.D student presents at symposium hosted by the FBI

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Donna Brandelli, a Ph.D student at Capella University (www.capella.edu), an accredited online university, presented at the National Crime Lab Directors Symposium in Atlanta. The symposium, which is hosted each year by the FBI, was attended by municipal, county, state and federal crime lab directors from across the country. Brandelli, a forensic identification specialist with the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department, presented on research she had conducted on the durability of fingerprints particularly on the permanence of friction ridge skin.

“We essentially showed that fingerprints do not change over time. They are permanent and unique,” she said.

Brandelli conducted the research, which the FBI commissioned, with five other specialists around the country. During her presentation, she discussed the benefits of the partnership, as well as the different technologies used. The research is the first phase of a planned long-term study. The fingerprints being analyzed will continue to be gathered over a period of several years with the expectation that they will remain unchanged over time, other than minor changes due to trauma.

For her doctoral dissertation at Capella, Brandelli plans to study whether jurors today believe the portrayal of forensics shown on television crime dramas is based on reality. She plans on completing the human services online degree program at Capella with an emphasis in criminal justice in 2007. Nearly 45 percent of Capella’s 16,000 online degree students are pursuing Ph.Ds.

About Capella University
Founded in 1993, Capella University is an accredited* online university that offers graduate degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services, and psychology, and Bachelor’s Degree programs in business and information technology. Within those areas, Capella offers 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 16 certificate specializations. The online university currently serves 16,000 students from all 50 states and 63 countries. It is committed to providing high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth. Capella University is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit http://www.capella.edu or call 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552).

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