Can a private, Catholic university thrive in the shadow of the big Texas publics?

St. Edward's University

St. Edward's University - Can a private, Catholic university thrive in the shadow of the big Texas publics?

After upgrades to faculty, curriculum, facilities and global outreach, St. Edward's had hit a ceiling in terms of student quality gains from its largely in-state enrollment. Sustained growth required reaching prospects beyond its home state of Texas.

Conventional Wisdom

A 125-year-old private Catholic liberal arts institution surrounded by low-cost Texas publics, St. Edward's University perceived itself as expensive. Unsure of how to reach a national audience, or to speak its one true voice, St. Edward's had allowed its role as one of America's pivotal liberal arts colleges to recede in favor of new graduate, professional training, and adult degree completion programs. Holy Cross culture and marketing habits had come to treat all audience as equals.

Elliance Perspective

Elliance took a strong position that St. Edward's undergraduate legacy and strength would provide the lift needed to move it from a super-regional school to a national and global brand. While enrollment revenue from graduate and other programs remained important, the most compelling brand story lay within the school's history of providing access to quality education since the early years of America's Reconstruction.

Elliance Approach

After a deep immersion in the school's history, Elliance unearthed a remarkable protagonist in school founder Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C. (1814–1893). The school's origin story contained ample context and meaning for present day students trying to connect their undergraduate college choice and a life of purpose. And we found in current students and faculty great connections between the school's Holy Cross founding and the school's particular take on academic, co-curricular and spiritual experience.


By bringing Father Sorin out of the shadows, and helping the school's brand messaging find the same synthesis discovered among students and faculty, Elliance set St. Edward's University on a new course. Poised for a giant leap forward, St. Edward's had yet to articulate why it would matter as a first-choice college to prospects outside its traditional recruitment area of central and south Texas.

A new website, along with finely-tuned search engine marketing and social media campaigns, is attracting "right-fit" students from national and international markets.


St. Edward's University steps out of the shadows as one of the nation's most historic and pivotal liberal arts universities.