Plymouth State University has a 90 percent favorability rating with residents in the town of Plymouth based on a survey the University hired an outside firm to conduct last summer. The purpose of the survey was to assess how Plymouth residents view PSU, in light of negative feedback the University heard during the final phase of negotiations with the town regarding the Life Safety Services Agreement signed last year.
“Rather than assume that this was the prevailing attitude about the University, we decided to do some research,” says PSU Vice President for Institutional Advancement Retha Fielding. “While there are certainly issues to be resolved, we were pleased to hear that nine of 10 residents surveyed have a favorable opinion of PSU, and 75 percent rate the overall quality of education provided by PSU as excellent or good.”
The survey also revealed Plymouth residents recognize the positive economic impact of the University with 46 percent rating job creation and the economy as the best part of having PSU located in the town. Other attributes noted were availability of cultural activities (21 percent) and the student population (20 percent).
Although the overall rating was positive, survey respondents were in agreement about the top two issues of concern: property taxes and student behavior. Sixty-three percent of respondents identified tax issues as a concern and 22 percent rated student behavior issues as a negative impact of having the University located in Plymouth. “We were not surprised to have these two issues at the top of the minds of town residents, and we found the comments made to the surveyors to be helpful,” says Fielding.
More surprising was the percentage of town residents who told us they get their information about PSU from the University — only one percent. This represents an information gap the institution is attempting to fill with its community newsletter, PSU Notebook, a community Web site (http://www.plymouth.edu/communityrelations/), including Plymouth residents in our mailing of Plymouth Magazine, and most recently, advertising and editorials.
Also, Plymouth State University is evolving, and the community relations initiatives are an opportunity to share the University’s changes and successes with Plymouth residents.