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Higher education management has shifted over time; replacing the democratic model with the business model. As a result, universities have incorporated extensive marketing campaigns to target students for recruitment. Unfortunately, the imagery used in marketing publications in these campaigns is not always effective in creating diversified campus communities. This publication will summarize the ethnographic study conducted in the fall of 2012 to assess Illinois State University’s use of imagery in their marketing campaigns to first year students. Surveys, observations, and a review of photographs used in publications over the course of Illinois State University’s marketing history will be discussed and how they were used to examine the success of imagery used by the university. Following this evaluation, recommendations will be given for the improvement of developing publication materials in marketing the university to potential students.


This paper was completed for the course Anthropology 302, Ethnography, in affiliation with the Ethnography of the University Initiative, Research was conducted in compliance with IRB Protocol #2012-0267 at Illinois State University.

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