Late Course Starts

Nassau From Afar: Distance Learning

Test Taking Skills

Corrections or additions?

These articles by David McDonough and Barbara Fox were prepared

for the October 4, 2000 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Thunder Marketing

What is the first thing that the public thinks of when

it hears your company name? What image comes to mind? Something


you hope. Rick Brenner, general manager of the Trenton Thunder,

wants the words "affordable family entertainment" on


lips when they think about going to Waterfront Park.

A part of the Thunder staff since its inception in 1994, Brenner will

speak to the New Jersey Communications, Advertising & Marketing


(CAMA) on Tuesday, October 10, at 11:30 a.m. at the Doral Forrestal.

His subject: "The Value of Branding: How Trenton Markets


Cost: $35. Call 609-799-4900.

"We’ve tried hard to make Waterfront Park a fun, exciting place

that’s affordable and appropriate for all members of the family,"

says Brenner. "That’s important with any company: you try to shape

it into what you want it to be, and make that your image. In our case,

we haven’t raised ticket prices in four or five years, and our parking

is still $1, as it has been from the beginning."

Brenner acknowledges that in some ways, it is easier to create brand

expectations from scratch than to change the public’s already existing


"We were a brand new team seven years ago," he points out,

"and that’s not as hard as coming in and taking something over

and changing a brand or image. When somebody’s perception is already

set, and people are already used to not going, or have been turned

off by a franchise that hasn’t done the customer service thing, that’s

hard to overcome. It’s hard to combat a bad taste as opposed to no

opinion at all."

Brenner offers these tips to businesses looking to establish and


positive brand recognition:

When you are creating your marketing goals, it’s very important

to pinpoint the match between what your brand is going to be and what

you can deliver.

Recognize tradition and loyalty and do not ignore it; even as

you try to incorporate new things and keep things fresh.

Pick your spots. Much as you’d like to, you can’t make everybody


If an opportunity comes along, seize it. Remember, says Brenner,

that every situation begs for a different reaction.

Always be improving your product. Anytime you sit still, you’re

looking for trouble.

There’s an old saying in the music business — just remember

that every song is somebody’s favorite. Brenner, a 31-year-old


native, takes a lot of his experience from the music business. After

his graduation from the Hun School, he spent some time in school in

New Hampshire, and started his own music production company. "A

local band up there asked me to manage them. I had them booked all

over New England, and the business mushroomed. I ended up managing

several bands, and doing audio and visual sound work. I did that for

six years, but went back to school (Plymouth College) and got a degree

in physical education."

"I wanted to do something with managing entertainment: on stage,

court or rink. I just knew I wanted to be in that kind of role. I

graduated in December, 1993, and my parents told me about Thunder.

I was hired as an intern. I worked for a few months with no pay, and

then with first game, I got all of $500 a month. That fall, another

intern, Geoff Brown (now the general manager of the new Lakewood

Blue Claws baseball franchise) and I got fulltime positions."

Brenner rose rapidly through the ranks, as director of community


director of public relations, director of production and event


director of operations, and assistant general manager. Last March,

when Thunder GM Wayne Hodes left to take a job with the National

Football League’s New Orleans Saints, Brenner was the logical


for the GM job. Now that the season’s over, he’s looking forward to

attending his first Eastern League general managers meeting in early

November. He’s been there before, but never as head honcho.

"This is how you stay on top of things," says Brenner. "In

this industry, everybody shares and talks. In the off season, you

try to catch things — sporting events, concerts. You are always

looking at every facility for tips, even if it’s just the way they

put the paper towels in the bathroom. At the Eastern League meeting,

each team presents a topic: what worked well for them, what didn’t.

Everybody shares. Plus it’s also fun and you can swap horror


Brenner says he and his staff are already hard at work on making the

Thunder live up to its positive brand image. "I’ve been working

with the owners and Eric Lipsman (director of marketing and

merchandising) and Brad Taylor (assistant general manager) since

June on what we are going to do next year. There should always be

something happening."

Brenner sums up his philosophy thus: "The most important people

in our building are our fans. If you keep it fun and entertaining

and affordable, they’re gonna come. If they continue to come, we all

have jobs. If they don’t, get the resume out."

— David McDonough

Top Of Page
Late Course Starts

Raritan Valley Community College is still accepting

registration forms for Fall II semester credit courses, which run

from October 5 through December 22. In-person registration is during

business hours on weekdays on the first level of the College Center.

Over 35 courses are being offered this semester, including Computer

Literacy, Introduction to Psychology, English I, and two web-based

courses, Internet and C-Language.

Both day and evening classes are offered and are held at RVCC campus,

the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, and Bound Brook High School.

For information, call 908-218-8864.

Top Of Page
Nassau From Afar: Distance Learning

Until now, Princeton University has not tapped the


learning market. If you look in "Peterson’s Guide to Distance

Learning Programs," just published by the firm at Princeton Pike

Corporate Center, you will find that the university is nowhere to

be found.

Now it has taken a big step forward to "go the distance"


It will team with Oxford, Stanford, and Yale to launch a non-profit

organization, University Alliance for Life-Long Learning, to offer

noncredit courses to alumni — at first — and the wider public,

in the future.

Herbert M. Allison Jr., former president of Merrill Lynch, will

be president and CEO. Jeremiah Ostriker, Princeton’s provost,

is on the board of directors, as is Heidi G. Miller, CFO of, Srinija Srinivasan, vice president and editor

in chief of Yahoo! Inc., and other academic dignitaries.

"Our two primary objectives are to provide the best learning


that we can to our students and alumni and to enable faculty members

to explore new methods which may enhance the teaching and research

they are able to carry out," says Harold T. Shapiro, Princeton

University’s president. Possible methods are multi-media programs,

topical websites with links to research information, live and taped

coverage of campus speakers and events, and lectures on tape.

Oxford and Yale are as new to the distance learning game as Princeton

is, but Stanford is one of the world’s leading providers of televised

for-credit courses, at least in the technical area. Last year the

Stanford Center for Professional Development had 255 distance learning

courses with 1,500 students enrolled, according to the advertisement

and listing in the Peterson’s book. Under certain restrictions, it

offers six engineering or engineer/business master’s degrees and a

plethora of subjects outside degree programs, and it also has a number

of noncredit courses( The cost ranges from

$524 per unit for an audit to $995 per unit for graduate courses.

About the book: "Peterson’s Guide to Distance Learning 2001,"

at 924 pages and $26.95, could set any would-be student’s imagination

on fire, with its mindboggling array of courses in every possible

field — and no geographical limitations. It has almost 3,000


and certificate programs at more than 1,000 institutions.

Every school known to offer a distance learning program gets basic

information printed in this directory, and more than 350 institutions

pay to have an additional two-page spread with more details. Among

the advertisers are New Jersey Institute of Technology ($206 per


for state residents,, Rutgers Online ($800 per course

for state residents,, Thomas Edison State College

(a distance education pioneer, and the New Jersey


Community College Consortium, (U.S. 1, August 9), a partnership of

19 community colleges including Mercer and Middlesex ($80 per credit

for everyone,

Always had a yen to be a professional coach? The United States Sports

Academy in Daphne, Alabama ( offers certification

in sport coaching for figure skating, body building, exercise


and personal training. A master of sport science degree is available

in your choice: coaching, management, or sports medicine. Tuition

is $350 per semester hour plus shipping and other fees. Yes, you can

get the same degree from a nearby college, but then you actually have

to show up at specific times. This way, you can do your work at night.

More than 90 percent of this school’s students are in a distance



At the other end of the scale is Harvard University, which put a solo

toe in the distance learning water four years ago. Last year it had

25 students enrolled in seven "distance" courses, mostly in

computer programming and information sciences, some that lead to an

MLA in information technology. Noncredit tuition is listed in the

Peterson’s guide as $950, $1,200 for a credit course


Noncredit liberal arts courses will star in the newly formed


consortium. Each school will chip in $3 million for the launch. But

the potential participation of alumni (together, the schools have

500,000 former students) presumably will help pick up the rather


tab for developing courses. Courses may be available as soon as the

end of next year. The price of the courses were not announced.

Also not addressed in the announcement: Questions of compensation

for intellectual property — what, if anything, the professors

will be paid for the taping of their lectures.

— Barbara Fox

Top Of Page
Test Taking Skills

Patricia Shine of Thomas Edison State College

will teach a Sharpening Test Taking Skills workshop on Saturday,


14, at 9:30 a.m. for adult students who need help in preparing for

tests. The three-hour workshop, held at the college at 101 West State

Street in Trenton, will emphasize the preparation needed for


completing credit-by-examination tests, though the material covered

will be general.

The class is limited to 10 or 15 people, so everyone will be able

to get their questions answered. Cost: $30 including materials and

refreshments. Call 609-984-1140 to register.

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