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Learning to a Greater Degree Award Winners

Congratulations to Colin Comer and Emily Northen, the fall 2016 recipients of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.


In August 2012, the University of Central Missouri implemented its strategic positioning platform and the related creative expression "Learning to a Greater Degree." Since the implementation, there have been questions about UCM's strategic positioning, what it means and why it exists. These FAQs are intended to clearly address those basic questions and explain what the strategic positioning is, what it affects and why it is essential to UCM.

What is strategic positioning?

Strategic positioning is the means by which UCM distinguishes itself in the higher education marketplace - how UCM is positioned in the minds of its various audiences. It is UCM's identity; it is UCM's brand. It is the cornerstone of all UCM communications, which means that UCM has a single identity that serves as an overarching umbrella to all of the UCM pieces and parts - UCM schools, departments, offices, programs and initiatives. Much like Habitat for Humanity, the United Way or Starbucks, in order to strengthen and advance the parent organization, all of the university's offerings, services and products must be consistent and unified in presentation, operation and philosophy. Establishing a clear and consistent brand identity is a long-term process that requires the dedication of significant time and effort. In today's crowded, competitive higher education marketplace, this effort should be viewed as an investment in one of UCM's most valuable assets - its reputation. Our strategic positioning defines what makes UCM special, unique and why we all believe so strongly in our university.

What is the strategic positioning platform?

The platform is a resource that will enable UCM stakeholders and constituents to communicate about UCM in a consistent and focused manner. The platform's components (statement, attributes, audiences/benefits, reasons to believe) serve not only as a foundation for UCM internal and external communications but also as a "north star" for UCM decision-making, operation and policy.

One of the platform's components, "the reasons to believe" serves as the evidence to support UCM's positioning: the culture of service, engaged learning, future-focused academics and worldly perspective. It helps all of us to unify the way we tell UCM's story and further make our messaging clear and consistent to all audiences. The creative expression, "Learning to a Greater Degree," is UCM's brand promise. This promise is more than just communication; it is intended to guide our purpose as a university.

However, having the platform as a resource is just the beginning. The full magnitude of the positioning platform will come as a result of the consistent and relentless reinforcement of its content.

How was the strategic positioning platform developed?

The strategic positioning platform is based on quantitative and qualitative research collected and analyzed by the consulting firm, The Cryder Rinebold Company. It came as a result of collecting the perspectives of internal constituents (administration, staff, faculty, and past and current students) and external stakeholders (community leaders, prospective students/parents, corporate and government constituents). This comprehensive approach assured that the university's brand strategy is grounded in evidence and truth while also positioning UCM for its long-term future.

What is the creative expression?

The expression, "Learning to a Greater Degree," is a creative way to engage audiences in what makes UCM unique and distinct. It is a concise and appealing way to communicate the components within the positioning platform.

A team effort by the University Relations staff defined the expression and visual identity that will accompany all UCM communications. It is an expression that is unique to UCM and clearly communicates what a UCM educational experience means.

How long will this last?

While marketing campaigns come and go, the strategic positioning is a long-term plan for further defining and communicating UCM's unique identity. This strategy will not change in the foreseeable future. We expect that 10 or more years from now people will talk about UCM as the place to experience learning to a greater degree, and our students, prospective students and families will identify with the reasons to believe.

How do I specifically use this new resource and collaborate with University Relations to define my needs?

University Relations offers free marketing expertise, including strategic communications, creative development and design, copywriting, video production, Web development, and promotional items. To request assistance or get more information please visit contact us.

How does this affect UCM logos?

The official UCM institutional logo now includes the creative expression "Learning to a Greater Degree." It will be used in this way on all publications and communications. There are several applications of the logo available, some with the Mule, some without. It is important that all communications to external audiences feature this official mark so they can be identified as being part of UCM.