The best in the West: Trinity Western University wins top CASE award for a University

Langley, B.C.—No doubt about it, TWU’s on a roll. First it was the men’s basketball team, now it’s their communications team. Earlier this month, 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, and 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’m definitely very proud of our team,” says Schmidt, Director of Marketing Communications at TWU. “We take great satisfaction in winning the award, but ultimately we take greater satisfaction in the fact that we’re helping create top quality tools to attract exceptional students and exceptional donors to the university.”

Schmidt’s key team members, who have been working together for the past five years, include Michelle Dau, Communications Specialist for Admission, and Diane Coulter, Editor of the TWU Magazine. Before their arrival, TWU hadn’t won any awards, but since then, under Schmidt’s direction, they have won over 20 prestigious awards—including a grand gold last year for the TWU magazine.

So what does it take to win an award of this calibre? “Well it really was a team effort,” says Schmidt, who cut his teeth working as a Communications Assistant in Parliament before joining TWU seven years ago. And Schmidt’s team attitude is working well. Over the past five years, Schmidt and his team have won over 20 awards, including Grand Gold last year for their alumni magazine.

“I think we nailed it on the head this time,” says Jeff Suderman, Director of Undergraduate Admissions for TWU and one of Schmidt’s project team members. “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.”

According to Schmidt, creating an award winning publications such as the Viewbook and the Coffee table book doesn’t simply depend on the team. “We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have something exceptional to talk about,” he says. “We have an exceptional portfolio of professors and students that give us something compelling to say. When you do a publication well, it’s not so much the publication that’s good, it’s the fact that you’ve figured out a really effective way to provide a window into the community—that’s what’s really powerful.”

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