From College to University

Episode 83

EP. 83:

From College to University

Allison featuring Dr. Laralee Harkleroad

with Dr. Laralee Harkleroad

Laralee Ferrell Harkleroad partners with organizations seeking to grow and transform their culture, with an emphasis on branding, communications, and marketing. She currently serves enrollmentFUEL as a professional consultant and manager & curriculum strategist for their REV: Fuel Training Series. Dr. Harkleroad also enjoys working with tomorrow’s leaders in the classroom by serving as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer.

Previously, as the Director of Marketing and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Co-Director for Tusculum University, the first University in the state of Tennessee, she built the institution’s first Marketing department, establishing processes and policies, creating brand awareness, and building relationships across the organization to help achieve challenging goals.

Joining TU in 2014, her role covered a wide range of responsibilities including strategic planning and developing integrated marketing campaigns in support of student recruitment and retention, as well as alumni engagement and fundraising support. Dr. Harkleroad recently spearheaded the University’s transition from College to University and its efforts to unify and realign the institution’s brand. Dr. Harkleroad led the team responsible for all aspects and execution of the institution’s brand strategy including communication flows, social media management, and the phased redesign of the University’s website using only existing internal resources. Dr. Harkleroad continues to serve as an adjunct professor for the University’s College of Business and College of Civic & Liberal Arts.

A career change in 2012 led Dr. Harkleroad to discover her passion for higher education. Prior to 2012, she spent eight years managing the marketing and recruiting efforts for the TriCities, TN/VA office of Baker Donelson Law Firm. She obtained an EdD in leadership and learning in organizations from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, an MBA with a concentration in human resources from King University, and a Bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in legal studies from East Tennessee State University.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Laralee found her way to #HigherEd marketing and discovered that it was her true “calling”
  • How Tusculum University is actually the second institution Laralee has worked at during a transition from college to university
  • What steps Laralee and her team took to ease the transition and reframe their marketing around the university transition
  • How changing lamppost banners to feature Tusculum University was the single biggest community impact that excited people for the transition
  • What tools and resources Laralee’s team used that made the biggest difference throughout the process
  • How a clear, aspirational mission statement helped unify everyone and served as a focal point to get all parties involved on the same page
  • Why Tusculum University chose the “pioneer” as their mascot, and how it reflects the many ways the institution has served as a pioneer in Tennessee
  • How the outbreak of the global pandemic shaped the direction of some of the rebrand marketing
  • How all the hard work, strategic thinking, careful planning and implementation paid off in a hugely successful transition and rebrand



Dr. Laralee Harkleroad

Tusculum University Director of Marketing