The Brain Comes Alive on Kent State’s Campus
Can I loft my bed?
Is there a dining hall near my residence hall?
Where am I able to park on campus?
To answer these questions, students can ask The Brain on campus. Yes, that brain – the sculpture by Kent State Professor Emeritus of Art Brinsley Tyrrell located near Merrill Hall.
The project was created to help students feel comfortable asking questions about Kent State University. Students are able to contact The Brain with questions about anything Kent State-related without the pressure of figuring out who to ask. In short, they can ask the all-knowing brain.
Bob Louis, assistant vice president of new media communications; Phil Soencksen, writer for marketing communications; Nicole Losi, director of social media; and other employees at University Communications and Marketing have worked to complete this project. The goal is to help students feel more connected and engaged with the university, in alignment with being distinctively Kent State.
Mr. Soencksen contributed to the project as a writer and helped – forgive the pun – brainstorm the idea in response to summer melt.
“The Brain, at its foundation, answers questions from students, alumni and parents,” Mr. Soencksen says. “Summer melt is the phenomenon that occurs when committed students don’t show up come the start of classes in the fall.”
The Brain has been an integral part in the solution to this issue.
“This kept engagement over the summer and answered all the little things you worry about,” Mr. Soencksen says. “All of these little questions that pop into your head as an incoming freshman coming out of high school and don’t know anything about the college experience, you can ask The Brain.”
Prospective students, enrolled students and even parents are able to email The Brain in order to ask questions they have about Kent State.
“This email address allows you to send questions to askthebrain [at] kent.edu,” Mr. Soencksen says. “The Brain will answer you and also gives you links to the website or other people who can help you.”
When The Brain feature launched, more than 100 questions flooded in.
“It gives incoming students 24/7 access to ask questions, and they get a quick response,” Mr. Soencksen says. “They’re not bothering anyone. If they’re shy, they don’t have to hunt down the right department, phone number or person.”
Mr. Louis directed the team who created The Brain campaign with the intention to help bring a new character to campus while helping students feel engaged.
“What if The Brain became a persona and became the voice for the brand of Kent State, distinctively Kent State,” Mr. Louis says. “There was this atmosphere at Kent State, that you could be different, you could be quirky, and that was fine because we are going to allow you to become what you want to be and even more than you wanted to be.”
The creative team at University Communications and Marketing saw unused potential with the brain statue on the Kent Campus, so the team brought the statue to life.
“There wasn’t a lot of ‘you can’t do this, that’s odd’ when pitching the idea; it was ‘that’s kind of odd – let’s do it,’” Mr. Louis says. “The question after the original proposal was, ‘OK, how do we use this?’”
The Brain was a hit the first day it was launched.
“We had more hits on that within a 24-hour period on Instagram than we’ve had with anything,” Mr. Louis says. “So it proved to be very successful.”
“We reached 26,000 views on Twitter alone, and over 50,000 across all social media channels,” Mr. Louis says. “That’s just putting it out there and letting it do its thing. The Brain is something that you can say is really Kent State.”
Mr. Louis found this useful to build relationships with the students coming to Kent State.
The first priority on A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State is students first, and The Brain helps fulfill that priority.
“Staff are here because they want to help students, so this allowed us to have a conversation and be helpful,” Mr. Louis says. “We want to help you, and here’s an easy way to get answers to your questions.”
The Brain is here to stay.
“The Brain has life beyond summer melt as part of an ongoing campaign to foster student retention by answering questions year-round and also offering students access to resources during high-stress times like mid-terms and finals week,” Mr. Soencksen says. “The Brain is also used as a fun, informal way to share year-round holiday greetings and other announcements with our Kent State family.”
You are likely to see more of what The Brain has to offer.
To ask The Brain a question, email your question to askthebrain [at] kent.edu. The learn more about The Brain, visit www.kent.edu/brain.
For more information about University Communications and Marketing, visit www.kent.edu/ucm.