Oh Baby!

Langley, B.C.—Michele Dau has two new reasons to smile these days. As if being a new mom isn’t reason enough, this Langley resident was recently recognized for her top quality work in her field—all while balancing the rigor of pregnancy and new motherhood. As a Communications Specialist at Trinity Western University, Dau was part of a team of four that compiled TWU’s award winning Student Recruitment viewbook.

Early in March, Trinity Western University was notified that it had won three prestigious awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Up against universities from all over the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, TWU won Gold for its 40th anniversary coffee table book, Stories of Faith and Transformation, Bronze for its Admissions Website, and most importantly, Grand Gold for its Student Recruitment viewbook.

A coveted prize, only one Grand Gold is awarded in each category—Periodicals; Writing; Projects; Design, Illustration and Photography; and Publications. Those six winners, which included fellow Canadian university UBC, then became eligible for the Virginia Carter Smith Grand Crystal Award, the highest honour for a college or university. The top winner was announced Monday, March 11, 2003, in Coeur d’Alene Idaho, revealing that out of 400 entries from universities across the Northwest, it was Langley’s Trinity Western University that won the top award.

“I was surprised to win Grand Gold let alone the Virginia Smith,” says Dau. “When we entered the viewbook I just really hoped we’d win something. The calibre of the other universities that compete in CASE is excellent, so I knew competition would be tough. Plus, because every university has a viewbook, that category always has lots of entries and is historically a tough one to really wow the judges in.”

Jeff Suderman, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at TWU explains what helped set TWU apart from the rest. “I think we nailed it on the head this time,” he says. “We used research to form a clear picture of what our audiences needed before starting the program. We were intentional about expressing our brand throughout the book and relied on student testimonials to demonstrate it—and it’s working. Since the release of the viewbook, our inquiry rates have increased by 20%, which is huge for us.”

Interestingly, Dau was not the only one on the project juggling motherhood and career, Shannon Demant, Associate Director of Admissions was also working through her pregnancy to co-pilot the project.

So what was it like having half the project team pregnant? “I think often there is a misconception that pregnancy either slows you down or makes you more creative,” says Dau. “I don’t remember noticing either of those things. “What was different for me with being pregnant and tackling such a huge project was that I was careful to document our research and our communication objectives for the view book in case I wouldn’t be able to complete my portion.”

Both women, currently on maternity leave, “love being a mom,” but it doesn’t look like either of them will be settling into full-time motherhood anytime soon. “I do miss my job,” says Demant. “The admissions team is like an extended family to me so I miss seeing them on a daily basis and knowing how they’re doing.”

For Dau, her family literally did develop at TWU. “I met my husband in the Communications Department at TWU,” she says. “I was actually hired to help him. The viewbook he did won TWU’s first-ever CASE award, a bronze. When he left, I took over his job. It makes for an interesting dynamic in our marriage—he knows as much about my job as I do and has lots of thoughts on how it should be done. We often brainstorm together about projects; for this one he kept pushing me until it was the right tone and the right feel for the audience.”

Sounds like award-winning Communications Specialists are plentiful in the Dau household—they’ll just have to wait a few years to see if little Haley Dau picks up on the trend.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,200 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 other graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping