The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Engages 66% of Students in Co-Curricular Programming

How a top-ranked graduate school leverages Modern Campus Presence to showcase the tangible benefits of engagement

About The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy







registered student organizations



international students

in this case study: Brandon Kurzweg, Senior Associate Director of Student Engagement

Students love the Presence mobile app! The first time that that was introduced, that was like a really big game changer. Students know that they can basically go there for everything.

Brandon Kurzweg

The Challenge

Students' busy schedules make them difficult to engage. 

Harris Public Policy students are perhaps even busier than an average busy student. Courses and academic requirements at Harris are exceptionally rigorous, plus students are easily (and understandably) dazzled by the many activities awaiting their enjoyment in the Windy City. And most students graduate in just two years.

All of these factors create a lot of pressure for Harris’s student affairs professionals. They have to hustle to match their students’ schedules, needs and ambitions.

Two years is not a lot of time for students to focus on the student life portion of things. They pretty much have to dive right into a leadership position or an extracurricular opportunity, and then they dive out quickly too when they start to look for a full-time job. It's a really tight turnaround.

Brandon Kurzweg
So the Student Engagement team is constantly considering and reevaluating the department’s role; how can they best support their students? What do students most want and need out of their grad school experience beyond their degrees?

The Solution

Data-informed marketing

With so many responsibilities and opportunities competing for their time, both on campus and beyond, Harris Public Policy students often asked “why?” Why should they get involved in student life? Why should they bother going to an event when they’re swamped with coursework? Why should they join a student organization when they already founded three as an undergraduate?

Modern Campus Presence has helped answer those questions. 

Because of the data from Presence, I’ve been able to show a snapshot of what the student experience looks like from a campus life perspective. It’s been the very first time that folks have been able to tangibly see what that's like.

Brandon Kurzweg

Real-time analytics allow the Student Engagement team to always know which individual students and demographics are not involved, so that they can continually make strategic changes to boost engagement school-wide change up individual, in-progress events on the go.

And understanding the benefits of engagement allows Kurzweg to better market co-curricular opportunities. Using data specific to Harris, he can showcase how highly involved students are more workforce ready and successful inside the classroom than their unengaged peers.

Streamline Processes

Using the Presence mobile app has saved students on their most precious commodity: Time. Rather than needing to run from building to building to get a bunch of forms signed or logging on to dozens of websites to check items off of their programming to-do lists, students can rely on Presence as their one tried-and-true stop.

I don't have to be a one-man one-stop-shop for everything anymore. Presence is my students’ go-to place now. I especially love love love that students can get customer service support right then and there, on demand through the portal! The fact that that is open to any user I think is great. My student leaders have used it a lot of times, without having to go through me first.

Brandon Kurzweg
Incentivizing Engagement

Harris’s gamifies engagement through points branded as professional development credits—which showcase how students have grown professionally through co-curricular learning and leadership.

Previously, Brandon and his teammates tracked these credits through a super complex spreadsheet that he called “nightmarish.” Or rather, they tried to track the points this way; it was far too confusing and time-consuming to be accurate.

But now, with Presence, Harris Public Policy  is living a tracking dream with 100% accurate, 100% automated students tracking data that’s accessible 24/7. Now, that’s a formula for engagement success.

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy's Favorite Features

Customizable Demographic Tracking

Award-winning Customer Support

Automated Pathways

Identify and assess engagement patterns in real time, enhanced by dynamic visual reporting.  Any user can ask a question directly through the portal and receive a custom response from a real, live person within minutes. 

Customize co-curricular pathways and requirements to fit your institution's exact needs and goals.

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About Modern Campus

Modern Campus is obsessed with empowering its 1,200+ higher education customers to thrive when radical transformation is required to respond to lower student enrollments and revenue, rising costs, crushing student debt and even school closures.

Powered by Omni CMS, DIGARC, Presence, Signal Vine, and Destiny One, the Modern Campus modern learner engagement platform enables innovative institutions to create a “learner to earner” lifecycle that engages modern learners for life.


Delivering massive personalization, AI-driven recommendations and a modern e-commerce engine, Modern Campus creates a student-first digital experience and removes silos across campus. Presidents and provosts, marketing and IT teams, admissions, registrars, student affairs and CE divisions can partner to attract, enroll, empower, retain, credential and re-engage students with pathways for lifelong learning.

Learn how Modern Campus is leading the modern learner engagement movement at and follow us on LinkedIn.

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