Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Roger G. Baldwin


During the past two decades, the image of higher education institutions, collectively and individually, has become more important as competition among colleges and universities for students, faculty, and resources has become more aggressive. In 1979 Mayhew asked whether it is possible for institutions that do not have well-established images to actually create them. This study addresses Mayhew's question by focusing on the concept of image at one institution, George Mason University.;This study examined both GMU's deliberate attempts to improve its image as well as the effects upon image of its inherent culture. Specifically, the two-part research question asked, first, how do GMU's efforts to improve its image compare and contrast to Topor's method of image-building outlined in Institutional Image (1986) and Marketing Higher Education (1983)? and second, to add a new perspective to image-making, how does GMU's "culture" as defined by Deal and Kennedy (1982) affect its image?;The study found that successful image-making at GMU involves the intimate nexus of both academic planning and marketing. GMU's president, George Johnson, keenly is aware of the importance of institutional image-making, and he strives to identify people, curricular programs, and projects that contribute to GMU's positive image. While GMU is striving to establish its own kind of culture, one of innovation, experimentation, and uniqueness, its culture differs from that described by Deal and Kennedy (1982) in that a strong sense of shared beliefs, values, and traditions is not prominent at GMU.;GMU is an example of an institution that, indeed is sucessfully creating an image that is attracting prominent faculty, better students, and increasing resources. The author believes, however, that more attention to building a stronger culture would provide a firmer foundation upon which to base GMU's image. Further study of the role of GMU's evolving culture would shed light on this question.



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