A Grand Case Study
University Relations and the Morrill Act Anniversary
July 2, 2012 marked the 150th anniversary of the passage of Morrill Act, which gave Americans greater access to higher education and created land-grant colleges. The University of Florida, the state’s flagship land-grant institution, rolled out a major cross-media campaign to commemorate this landmark legislation.
The Office of University Relations was asked by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) to create a campaign to create awareness of the Morrill Act, its 150th anniversary, and its lasting impact on higher education. Working closely with Dr. Teri Balser, Dean and Professor at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and a committee of volunteers from around campus, the Office of University Relations developed and implemented a comprehensive communications strategy to inform the campus community and residents of Florida about the importance of the Morrill Act and how UF has stayed true to its spirit by providing students with access to diverse, high quality educational opportunities.
The Creative Services team decided on the theme “Land Grand,” as it paid off the far-reaching effect of land-grant universities over the years. The communication efforts included campus-wide banners and a comprehensive website dedicated to the commemoration. The site put the celebration into historical perspective with a navigable timeline that tracks the path of legislation impacting higher education over the years. The “Land Grand” theme was reinforced with large scenic images that serve as a backdrop on each page. Utilizing adaptive design, the website provides an extremely consistent experience across phones, tablets and desktops.
University Relations also produced a public service television commercial, magazine ads, brochures, press releases, and a PR “tool kit” (complete with ad slicks, graphic elements, and guidelines) for all 67 county IFAS extension offices to individually promote the milestone. Additionally, UF was a proud participant at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a major summer event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that featured a tribute to the Morrill Act.
The net result of these combined efforts was a greater awareness of the Morrill Act, better understanding and appreciation of the land-grant university system, And an enhanced appreciation for the enormous contributions to the state made by the university.
In our work with University Relations, what stands out for me is creativity and commitment to excellence. We brought the barest nucleus of an idea and they worked with us to generate what promises to be an award-winning campaign with a state-of-the-art website and full suite of media approaches to accomplish our goals. I felt like we could play with all kinds of ideas and make them work. It has been a positive experience and I look forward to continued collaboration. – Teri Balser, Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences