In 2009, the Mendoza College of Business published an ambitious ten-year plan to “increase engagement with youthful entrepreneurs through an emphasis on cool, hip synergy between Notre Dame’s most relevant creatives.” On March 1st, the final phase of the program was launched with the College’s highly-anticipated announcement of the Digital Marketing Minor for non-major. When it was announced in 2009, the full ten-year plan “Operation Varsity Blues” (named after the trendy 1999 coming of age film and its youthful high school vibe) was met with skepticism from established professors, who criticized “those new-fangled millennials and their darn techno gadgets.” However, public opinion has shifted favorably over time; with the program’s culmination in the announcement of the Digital Marketing Minor, the Facebook Live stream of the press conference on March 1st got a whopping 13.4 thousand views, with over 1,500 people “smashing that like button.”
“I feel so blessed to be up and running – it’s been such a long process, but we finally made it baby!” said the minor’s chair D. James Khaled, who responded to our request for comment with a live stream of Snapchat Stories from his treadmill in the Smith Center for Recreational Sports. “Oh, what? You were asking about the Digital Marketing Minor? Oh, of course, yeah, I’m proud of that too.”
The biggest surprise from the minor’s announcement came in the meaning of the stipulation of the program being for “non-majors.”
“Traditionally, when programs are for non-majors, it means for students with majors outside that college’s field of study,” explained Associate Professor Cardale Jones. “In this case, we literally mean non-majors—you actually cannot have a major to be in this program. Really, I could not be more serious about this.”
As Mendoza looks to become “younger, sleeker, more agile, and more popular with Generation Z,” they have recruited an impressive array of faculty (identified as “Inspirers” instead of Professors) to add credibility to the minor. Faculty Inspirers include Evan Durant, who will teach DMSM 40550 “New Account Creation,” and even Twitter’s esteemed “Picture of an Egg,” which will teach DMSM 30540 “Imagination, Creativity, and Likes.”
While the Digital Marketing Minor for non-majors is the final stage of the ten-year project, it has come only after a long and rigorous fundraising process to ensure the department had the resources it needed to succeed. To drum up support and publicity along with donations to the minor, this summer Mendoza will host the “Inspyre Festival,” a three-day long party in the Bahamas in which donors will be flown to a remote island to view a Periscope stream of Professor Carlos Ackermann lecturing for 72 straight hours.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” said event director Billy McFarland. “We paid Brady Quinn $250K to post our logo on LinkedIn, and more than 4,000 people smashed that like button.”
Last week, the Development Office and specifically Senior Director of Annual Giving Programs William Singer received national recognition for the success of his own separate fundraising campaign, which focused on procuring incremental investments from parent-donors ranging from $500 thousand to $6.5 million.
“We did a tremendous job with the fundraising for Operation Varsity Blues,” said Singer. “You know, as a department, we always try to stress to parents—um, I mean, donors—that a little extra cash goes a long way to make sure their child gets the opportunities they deserve—uh, opportunities in digital marketing, that is.”
The Digital Marketing Minor for non-majors has been seen as a particularly attractive option for the younger generation of future students, who are looking for an education that is “less lame than high school” and don’t want to write more than 280 characters at a time.
“My daughter Olivia has always been looking for a program to help maximize her social media following, so I was happy to help promote this worthy cause,” said Tori Laughlin, an enthusiastic parent and supportive donor to the program. “Even though Olivia isn’t really interested in school, with this program she can still get the gameday and party experience of college all while continuing to curate the perfect Instagram account.”