How Emily Griffith modernized during a 100-year pandemic
The dawn of 2020 promised big things for Emily Griffith Technical College. A revised strategic plan had been approved with goals to nearly double the size of the student body for the 100-year-old-plus college as well as improve the school’s already strong completion and job placement rates.
The year started with a rush of activity related to the amended plan. In the first quarters of the year, the college made key hires, upgraded recruitment and enrollment technology, redesigned the student life cycle and executed a complete rebrand—while also responding to and adapting to a COVID-19 world.
“When we headed into 2020, to keep the college moving forward, we had lofty strategic goals and a series of ‘wildly big initiatives’ we needed to launch to meet those goals,” observed Stephanie Donner, Emily Griffith’s executive director. “The college has achieved amazing things this year in the midst of one of the most challenging times in local and world history—and we pivoted as a result.”
New people for a new Emily
Following the fall hire of Kaiser Permanente veteran Carrie Mast as vice president of Information Technology, Keo Frazier, a Denver-based marketing leader, was brought on board as vice president of Communications and Engagement in January. Lulu Lantzy, the former executive vice president of the National Services Group, joined the college early in the year as director of Partnerships and Innovation and Genene Duran, who has worked in community engagement, public relations and higher education administration, was named dean of the College of Health Sciences Administration.
“These new leaders have hit the ground running, and in a few months have made their presence felt,” Donner said, “helping us not just move the needle but also take it into bold new territory.”
Emily gets new tech
To meet the goals of the strategic plan, the college needed a technology reboot to make enrollment a more seamless experience for students. The college brought in Salesforce for Higher Education, the leading customer relationship management or CRM tool, and AdmitHub, a cutting-edge student communication platform that uses artificial intelligence to answer chatbot questions from students.
“Salesforce and AdmitHub provide the infrastructure we need to make the recruitment and enrollment process more efficient for our staff and friendlier to our prospective students,” Mast said. “This is providing the framework to really streamline how we admit students and standardize admissions from program to program.”
These new platforms have made it possible to reinvent what it means to be an Emily Griffith student from first contact through program completion and employment. “We have completely overhauled our student life cycle process, including intake, admissions and placement, so that it is student-centric and focused on leading students into career-driven program pathways and successful futures,” Donner said. “Emily Griffith is extending the student experience with Colorado-based business and organizational partners through not just the job search process but job attainment.”
While in the midst of all this work, COVID-19 hit Colorado in earnest. Like other schools in Colorado, Emily Griffith closed all its campuses and began rethinking how to deliver programs while also keeping students and staff safe.
That pivot involved moving all classes that could be held virtually online while also planning to deliver programs with elements that must be taught face-to-face (think welding, automotive service and cosmetology, among others) safely. As part of this initiative, Emily Griffith is working to communicate with students more efficiently through texts, accelerating online admissions capabilities and virtual teaching while also training staff and students to thrive in Emily Griffith’s new digital world.
“A lot of our programs already had online learning components,” Donner explained, “but the pandemic spurred us to move programs that we could into the digital sphere completely. Now all of our programs have some kind of online component including our skills-based offerings, which we deliver online and in safe onsite classes.”
Emily’s new look
Now the college was operating on two fronts: The battle to respond to the pandemic and the effort to reinvent the college post-pandemic and beyond. That latter meant Emily Griffith needed a stronger local identity.
“A lot of people who have lived in Denver their entire lives don’t really know what Emily Griffith Technical College does,” Frazier explained. “Are we a high school, a GED center, a trade school, a college? People just don’t know.”
The college needed a stronger market position, which led to the most public-facing change at Emily Griffith, the new brand. Launched in June, Emily Griffith’s fresh identity takes elements from the previous logo, which had the look and feel of a traditional university seal and modernizes them. The new logo consists of two elements, a circular logomark and a logotype. The circular logomark no longer highlights the Denver skyline of the previous logo, but instead centers on Emily Griffith’s initials. When used with the accompanying logotype that reads “Emily Griffith Technical College,” it serves to reinforce the institution’s name and founder’s legacy.
Echoing the previous logo, the new logomark is circular and features a “pathway” element indicating an upward trajectory. It also takes the green and blue from the old logo and brightens them, lending the identity a more youthful, optimistic feel. Plus the colors are used in a diagonal gradient style, which, according to the brand guide, “exemplifies progress, showing that attending Emily Griffith Technical College transforms students’ lives.”
“The design captures the traits identified in our brand survey research that Emily Griffith is accessible, dynamic, friendly, progressive and realistic,” Frazier said. “It’s been really well received.”
A new website debuted in July that includes fresh photography that shows diverse individuals actively participating in their career learning, collaborating with others and demonstrating their humanity. The text is written in an inspiring, personable style that puts students at the center of the messaging.
“The sheer volume of work that’s been completed and the quality of it is not only astounding, it says everything about Emily Griffith’s excellence,” Donner said. “The Emily Griffith community has pulled together to make this the year that Emily Griffith goes from being Colorado’s best-kept educational secret to being the destination to retool your life for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s opportunities.”
Emily teaches tech
On Sept. 9, Emily Griffith Technical College will be 104 years old. In that time, approximately 2 million Coloradans have entered our IRL – and virtual – doors to improve their English, complete high school and acquire in-demand skills, which back in the day included everything from masonry and millinery to telegraphy and typing.
Today students are heading to Emily Griffith not to learn hat making but to learn how to fix electric cars, become cybersecurity analysts and create animated graphics, learning new skills for new careers and taking courses to excel in their current careers.
This spring and fall Emily Griffith added three new high-tech programs offerings to the mix including Google IT Support Professional, Web Development and Cybersecurity. Each program is 10-months-or-less long, offers on-the-job training through internships and costs less than $5,000.
“These programs give students the background and training they need to enter a range of high-demand, lucrative careers,” said Stephanie Donner, Emily Griffith’s executive director. “For less than the cost of one semester at most colleges and universities, students can train for and launch careers in technology—and they can do it all online.”