A new roving ambassador with a robust profile has joined the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's Admissions and Recruitment office.
A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2500 van debuted this week at the UMES Washington Metropolitan Area Alumni Chapter's 27th annual student recruitment reception. Prospective students, their families and graduates were the first to get an up-close view of the high-tech marketing tool.
“Really cool” was the consensus reaction.
“I think it is really cool,” said Jamaree Taylor, a Lackey High School senior. “I was happy to see it, and it made me want to explore (UMES) more.”
Lovell Walls Jr., a Phelps High School sophomore, “didn't know at first what to think of it.” Then, pausing for a second, he added, “I thought it was really cool.”
Other prospective students offered UMES' team of admissions counselors pretty much the same reaction throughout the two-hour event.
UMES acquired the van as part of the Green Collar Initiative in consultation with Delmarva Power, which contributed $1 million in July 2016 to support a series of eco-friendly academic and community outreach projects.
To raise UMES' profile across the region served by the utility and its parent company, Exelon, one of those projects it agreed to support was imaginatively dubbed a “Mobile Transfer Substation.”
UMES and Delmarva Power decided a uniquely tailored vehicle with the latest wireless technology, sporting the university's logos, slogans and school colors, would resonate with prospective students and the community.
The van “will enable the university to reach students where they are and enable them to explore career paths that take them where they want to go,” a university statement projected when Delmarva Power's gift was announced.
“We looked at other vehicles,” UMES Executive Vice President Kim Dumpson said, “but the Sprinter was distinguishable because it was already customized with everything needed for the mobile recruitment office, and was ready to get on the road immediately, which is critical.”
The van, a 2015 Executive Series High Roof model, will be used by recruiters to visit high schools within a day's drive of Princess Anne, community colleges and recruitment events like the March 27 reception organized by UMES' loyal Washington area alumni.
Jinawa McNeil, the university's interim recruitment office director, said the van also will be deployed to other four-year college campuses to draw attention to graduate programs at UMES, which in 2016 earned doctoral research institution status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Among the vehicle's features that reception guests and Hawk alumni got to see:
It seats up to nine people, including four bucket seats that enable face-to-face interaction and also features three console lap tables.
Mechanically, the van features a Blue Tech (turbo diesel) system that can be plugged into an electrical outlet when in use while parked.
UMES acquired the specially modified vehicle for $117,500 from the Pohanka Mercedes-Benz of Salisbury dealership, which has expressed interest in offering internships for students majoring in business, finance and mechanical engineering. Pohanka also has expressed interest in supporting classroom lectures or seminars on the Mercedes-Benz business philosophy and service excellence for UMES business and technology students, Dumpson said.
“This puts UMES in a great position to market the university and to go directly where the students are with a one-stop shop,” said John Allen, UMES Board of Visitors chairman and a Delmarva Power executive.
“Now is the time for out-of-the box thinking and this is the start of something big that we are proud to be involved with,” Allen said.