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As vice president for Information Technology and CIO of Ball State University (Ind.), H. O'Neal Smitherman has a knack for seeing the big picture before anyone else does. Smitherman keeps a close eye on smart classroom and distance learning technology.

This is the era of the brand. Study after study indicate that institutions with a strong, valued brand enjoy opportunities that other less-branded institutions do not. For example, we can show that well-branded institutions attract:

More and better students.

More full- and fuller-pay students (brand equity).

When Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (PA.) opened its doors in 2005, its leaders made sure buildings and classrooms were ready, and that the school's wireless network was robust. One item left off the list was phone landlines.

RECENTLY I MET A FAMILY whose daughter was looking at Rhodes College. The family income was slightly above $20,000. Federal and state funding didn't provide the assistance necessary for the daughter to enroll. Even after adding a substantial commitment from the college to the financial aid package, there was a large financial gap.

In 2006, the buzz surrounding college admissions grew into a quiet roar. From Harvard's decision to end its nonbinding Early Action option to the release of Daniel Golden's book on admissions for the rich and famous, several events turned admissions offices on campus into some of the busiest and most interesting departments around.

It tantalizes the best millennial students with colorful and personalized brochures, screaming the student's name and interests.