Winning a national championship: the aftermath

Illustration by Jake Barnard

Illustration by Jake Barnard

When you think of UMD, athletics or hockey is usually one of the top things you think of.

With last year’s national championship and our two gold medalists Maddie Rooney and Sidney Morin, the national spotlight was turned on UMD. What comes after so much success for the university, and what are the benefits?

Some of the benefits, according to Josh Berlo, the director of intercollegiate athletics, can be seen in the form of donations, media attention, increased enrollment and a sense of campus and community pride.

Josh Berlo, courtesy of the athletics department

Josh Berlo, courtesy of the athletics department

“I think that national level achievement and success, whether it’s a championship, frozen four appearance or a final four, appearance certainly helps heighten the awareness of an academic institution,” Berlo said. “It gives prospective students the opportunity and maybe even a little encouragement to look into that institution and then they can discover the great academic programs that we have here at UMD.”

Ian Pannkuk, courtesy of the admissions department

Ian Pannkuk, courtesy of the admissions department

Regardless of UMD’s many successes last year, it is unlikely that much of it played a role in this year’s boost in applications. According to Ian Pannkuk, the director of marketing and operations in the Office of Admissions, the increase in applicants is likely due to marketing strategies and a trend of increased applications over the last five years.

“I would say the normal or the average has probably been reset in recent years,” Pannkuk said. “We’ve been seeing an increase compared to fall of 2015; it was around 8,600. 2016 it was at 9,000. 2017 it was at 9,700. So you’re starting to see that increase every year.”

Even though the championship may not have been what caused this year’s applications to increase by 600, the championship definitely helped bring awareness to the institution.

“It [the national championship] definitely helps increase the awareness of the institution, it gets the name of the institution into more of the Twin Cities media such as the Star Tribune, and Pioneer Press and the TV markets down there. Also, it increases some of the national exposure,” Pannkuk said.

Along with national attention, campus pride and a possible increase in enrollment over the next few years, the national successes coming from UMD also led to an increase in fundraising.

Last year, UMD had a record breaking fundraising total of more than 18.1 million over the fiscal year.

Tricia Bunten, courtesy of the admissions department

Tricia Bunten, courtesy of the admissions department

Tricia Bunten, the chief development officer for UMD, said that anytime the university has that kind of success at a national level it certainly helps bring in donations.

“ [donations] will probably continue to resonate, particularly with the athletic donors, for the next couple of years,” Bunten said. “They will likely see a residual increase.”

According to Bunten, Not all of the donations were due to winning the championship game or having two gold medalists. Most of last year’s fundraising actually  came from the significant gifts donated to the new HCAM building. The gifts included its name, Heikkila Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science Building. But, without the athletics’ donations we would not have gained much of what we did.

Berlo believes the reason for the increase in athletic donations is not necessarily due just for the championship and our gold medalists, but rather it’s likely due to UMD’s achievement of athletes succeeding competitively as well as academically.

“A lot of time it is the ‘how’ we succeed that motivates our donors and that we’re supporting our student athletes to chase a degree at the same time that they’re chasing championships,” Berlo said.

Overall, UMD has benefited in many ways from the past year’s academic and athletic achievements.