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Profile: Thomas Hayes

Profile: Thomas Hayes
By France Griggs Sloat

THOMAS HAYES

Bachelor of Science in Psychology, 1975; Master of Business Administration, 1976

Professor of Marketing at Xavier; Co-Owner, SimpsonScarborough

Cincinnati

Big Decision | When Hayes came to Xavier in 1972, his thought process went something like this: I’m one of six kids. My dad is a professor at Xavier. We get free tuition. Any questions?

College Man | Today, Hayes teaches marketing to Xavier students who receive reams of print and online information from universities wanting to convince them which school is best. Such materials didn’t exist when Hayes was college hunting, and somewhere along his path to a PhD, he saw the void—and the opportunity.

Visionary | At the time, marketing higher education was anathema to most academicians. Hayes, though, saw the changing demographics and realized two facts: The reliable pool of traditional students like him was shrinking, and their behavior was changing. They could no longer be counted on to be satisfied with grandpa’s alma mater. In order to survive, colleges and universities had to start marketing themselves.

First in Class | Hayes organized the first marketing conference for higher education, held at Xavier in 1989 and 1990. The Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education is now the largest in the world. Hayes still helps with planning and presents at it every year. He’s also become a top expert in the field of marketing higher education and spends as much time teaching the latest trends in marketing as he does speaking and lecturing around the world.

Go, Go, Go | When he’s not grading papers, teaching class or meeting with students at Xavier, he travels—at least once a week. He’s visited colleges across the country and the globe, he teaches at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, every summer and he’s been rated the top speaker at more than 10 conferences. The only continent he’s not visited is Africa.

On Top | “It does get hectic,” he says. “But it’s nice to feel like you’ve contributed to a field, and being considered one of the top people in the field really fuels my teaching. I can talk about things that are happening when I work with a university and then can bring it to the classroom. It adds a certain level of credibility.”

On the Side | In addition to being a professor of marketing at Xavier for the last 34 years, Hayes is also a partner in SimpsonScarborough, a private consulting firm that specializes in marketing higher education. He’s also authored two books on higher education marketing, in 2008 and 2009.

Surprise | Hayes originally wanted to be a psychologist. But he took a class in marketing his senior year and realized an important truth. “Marketing is just applied psychology. It’s about understanding the consumer.” That aha! moment became the underpinning of his entire career, and he’s been helping students, professionals and college administrators understand the consumer ever since.

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