Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Wisconsin)

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (Wisconsin)

In one year MIAD experienced a 37 percent increase in first-time-in-college (FTIC) enrollment, giving the college an energy burst even as the country entered into the economic downturn.

The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) is a four-year private college offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in the visual arts, helping launch professional artists and designers toward artistic growth and successful, creative lives. MIAD had been experiencing inconsistent enrollment for several years and sought to establish predictable enrollment with strategic vision. In late 2007, MIAD was undergoing a transition with a new president who has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the benefits enrollment management can bring to a campus. These factors cumulated in a drive and focus that helped MIAD to not only steady but increase enrollment.

A vision of the future

MIAD approached enrollment holistically incorporating every stage of the process from prospect to graduation. The admissions and financial aid staff had been at MIAD for many years and felt they continued to work harder with little results.

To take the college to the next level, MIAD undertook the process of uniting the campus to move toward a cohesive approach to recruitment. MIAD assessed the current processes, strategies, and practices to determine appropriate goals for what it wanted to accomplish. It then determined how to go about accomplishing those tasks. MIAD did not have the capacity to determine the most effective means to distribute financial aid strategically.

To address this it implemented a strategic financial aid system that combines art and science to help them determine both ability and willingness to pay of its prospective students. This system has allowed MIAD to tie its financial goals to its recruitment goals and activities for a seamless and effective process of minimizing money as a barrier to enrollment for students who are a good fit for MIAD. Further, MIAD reworked their marketing strategies and messages to ensure that everyone across campus was communicating the same thing. This coordinated messaging assisted with funnel management and helped various offices work together more effectively to ensure a consistent experience for future and current students.


In one year MIAD experienced a 37 percent increase in first-time-in-college (FTIC) enrollment, giving the college an energy burst even as the country entered into the economic downturn. With a deeper understanding of their student population, the entire campus was able to work together to sustain higher enrollment. In the second year of the effort, MIAD enrolled the second largest class during the height of the economic crisis. Another result from its efforts is that by working smarter and collaborating with other areas of the college, the marketing messaging is consistent. The quality of publications has increased and communication between departments has broken out of the silos that hindered a campuswide initiative before.

In recognition of its achievements, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design received a Marketing-Recruitment Excellence Award from Ruffalo Noel Levitz in 2010.

Case study used with the permission of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

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