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The University President From the Barrio

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Jill Reddish

on 2 October 2014

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Transcript of The University President From the Barrio

The University President From the

design by Dóri Sirály for Prezi
In San Antonio's West Side of the 1950s, many young Hispanic girls were told all they could expect out of life was to get married and start a family. College was not an option, and certainly not for Maria.

So Maria got married right at 18,
and started a family.
But after dutifully starting a family, her husband left her, leaving Maria alone, uneducated, and barely able to feed her two children.
Once upon a time...
Bachelor of Art in Speech
Master of Art in Guidance and Counseling
Doctorate of Educational Administration

Three presidential appointments to
Dept of Education

Texas A&M University-San Antonio
, 2010-2015
The University President
Maria managed to get a minimum wage job at a center for mentally challenged children, and she caught the eye of her sympathetic supervisor, Carol.

Carol asks Maria, "why aren't you in college?"

Maria replies, "Me? I'm not college material."
The fairy godmother
Finally, Maria agreed. She learned to drive, and when she enrolled in classes, she was told that her first semester was already paid for!

Maria works hard at her studies, and a love of learning opend her eyes to a new world. After believing she wasn't cut out for college, she was an "A" student who loved to learn.

Soon after graduating, she got a full-time position at a local school district.
The magic of transformation
To top it off, she doesn't even know to drive.
Carol kept at her, nudging her to just try, wanting to know, if she can find a way to pay for even the first semester, will Maria go?
Business Problem
Purpose of the university: To educate people

Objective: Enroll 1,500 students by 2009 and grow enrollment each year by 10% for 15 years.
Convince a population without a
"college-going culture" to enroll at a new university and earn/finish degrees.
Tactic 1: Media Interest

Dr. Ferrier and her story were pitched to the media at strategic occasions (when hired, when milestones were reached, at building openings, etc.)

Results: Biggest coverage included a magazine cover when hired, and several tv, radio and newspaper stories for her inauguration ceremony.

Tactic 2:
Personally Sharing Her Story
Dr. Ferrier embarked on an intensive speaking campaign around the city and state, sharing her story in person to groups under 100 to 1,000s (including HS graduations, a more direct recruiting tool!)

Results: (anecdotal) Dr. Ferrier personally recruited many students (including many people in her own family), and identified a number of current students each year who also had a compelling story about their journey to earn an education (new "grassroots ambassadors."
Tactic 3:
Cultivating Donor Relationships
Dr. Ferrier built strategic personal relationships with key members of the Texas Legislature, Board of Regents, and Donors, inviting them to campus and building on her personal insight for what students are experiencing and to ask for support for what the university needs to assist them.

Results include: funding for four buildings, $2 million in scholarship donations, and hopefully more on the way!
One Method (of many): "Buying a CEO"

Bring in an inaugural president with expertise in education and a relatable story to garner media interest, win popular support, raise awareness, thereby increasing enrollment.
Top-shared Facebook post:
Student story similar to Dr. Ferrier's
Results of "Buying a CEO" Strategy?
Enrollment grew 216% from 2009 (when Dr. Ferrier was hired) to 2014
In September, she announced her pending retirement in early 2015. Twelve days later, the campus celebrated the opening of its iconic Academic Building, covered by local tv, radio, and newspaper.
One headline read: "A&M-SA Celebrates Ferrier and New Building"
That's how Maria, in spite of a world that told her she couldn't,
empowered herself to make a better life and left the barrio,
eventually becoming the president of a university, one of academia's highest achievements..
Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier
The strategy was extremely successful in achieving the goals of garnering media attention, raising awareness and increasing popular support to grow enrollment.
Full transcript