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Eastern boosts recruitment efforts at Creation Festival

Eastern will be taking on exciting new recruitment opportunities this summer with representatives and advertisements at the nation’s two largest Christian music festivals: Creation Northeast and Creation Northwest.

The chance to expand Eastern’s visibility at Creation came through Chancellor Hall’s friendship with Pastor Harry Thomas, co-founder of Creation and graduate of Eastern Baptist Seminary.

The two met in Ghana this past summer, where Thomas was helping to found a Christian university. Thomas subsequently offered Hall the opportunity for Eastern to have more advertising space at the festivals this year.

Typically, advertising at Creation has been dominated by Liberty University, a marketing scheme that has garnered Liberty large numbers of applicants.

In previous years, Eastern has maintained a small presence at Creation Northeast with a booth aimed at connecting future students, current students and alumni.

This year, Eastern will share space with Liberty at both festivals. Jumbotron ads featuring popular Eastern alumni, like Shane Claiborne, will be played in between festival events. In addition, representatives from the undergraduate program, Campolo College of Graduate and Professional Studies and Palmer Seminary will be active at the festivals, passing out recruitment literature and informing festival patrons about Eastern.

Creation Northeast, which typically attracts crowds of almost 100,000, will be held at Agape Farm in Mt. Union, Pa., from June 24-27. The more recently established Creation Northwest, which draws around 20,000 each year, will take place at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., from July 22-25.

“This year we hope to increase Eastern’s visibility at the festival and introduce ourselves to a larger variety of students,” Eastern’s Director of Undergraduate Admissions Michael Dziedziak said in an e-mail interview.

“Our goal is to introduce Eastern to those who have not heard of it, and keep a conversation going with those who have,” he said. “Hopefully, in talking about Eastern’s commitment to the ideas of faith, reason and justice, we can help them see the sorts of things that God is doing through people at Eastern and how they might be part of that.”

A new large-scale recruitment campaign brings not only opportunities but questions about the university’s future. How, for instance, will an influx of applicants affect Eastern’s enrollment and admissions rate? If Liberty currently receives several thousand applicants from Creation, Eastern will surely receive a major spike to the number of applicants it is use to seeing.

When asked to comment on these potential issues, Chancellor Hall answered simply that the administration would have to pray on it and make wise decisions.

For his part, Dziedziak noted that the number of high school students in Pennsylvania and throughout the Northeast has been decreasing in recent years and this trend is expected to continue.

“As the populations of students that Eastern has traditionally drawn from continue to decrease in the coming years, we will need to be more and more creative about how to increase the visibility of Eastern University,” Dziedziak said. “The Creation Festival is the perfect place to do that.”

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