A new, eco-friendly shuttle has become a major recruiting tool for one college at Western Michigan University.
The College of Aviation (CoA) purchased the shuttle through funding from the Kellogg Foundation in May, and is using the vehicle throughout the summer to transport prospective students around the Battle Creek campus, in addition to occasional tours on the main campus.
“[The shuttle] is a tool for recruitment and outreach,” said Captain Dave Powell, Dean of the CoA. “WMU has very little advertising for the individual colleges, and we wanted to get our own name out there.”
Powell, who agreed that the shuttle was his “brain child”, noted that the vehicle is advantageous for the college in order to transport students and their parents as they visit the Battle Creek campus.
“We have tours through the winter, and in rain,” said Powell, noting that the shuttle will make the tour of the campus a lot more comfortable for the visitors.
Due to the fact that Powell came up with the idea of the shuttle, it received the nickname “The Dean Mobile.”
The CoA has previously invested in a Chevrolet Tahoe, which is wrapped in WMU and CoA logos. Powell said that when the colleges’ recruiting team has traveled throughout the east coast, they have received a lot of recognition.
“Whenever we make a stop at a gas station, there is always someone who comments on the car,” said Powell. “They’ll say ‘Hey, I’m a Bronco.”
The shuttle bus is another way for the college to continue their efforts for self-promotion.
“Flight fees are high [at the CoA],” said Powell. “[Which means that] we put a lot of energy and effort to present why people would want to get into the program.”
Powell said he isn’t a “traditional” dean in the academic sense, and that his background from the business world, rather than the academic world, means that he has a different perspective on a lot of things.
“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time,” said Powell, who came up with the idea of investing in the shuttle because he saw other colleges doing similar initiatives for promotion and outreach. “What’s wrong with having a little fun?”