What’s in a name? More than you’d think, as trustees discovered at the June 2 Board of Trustees meeting, at which consultants presented an assessment of the Metropolitan State College of Denver name.
The assessment, set in motion by a February 2010 BOT resolution, was conducted by Sector Brands. The consulting firm was asked to evaluate awareness and understanding of the name, its effectiveness in supporting the College’s mission, vision and brand, and its strengths and weaknesses, among other factors.
In a series of focus groups, interviews, stakeholder input sessions and electronic surveys, Sector Brands contacted more than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty, staff, employers, community members, legislators and members of various Metro State boards. They also evaluated case studies of other college name changes.
Most people contacted think the Metropolitan State College of Denver name is too long (62 percent of alumni and 68 percent of employers) and difficult to remember. The shortened “Metro State” was found to be more memorable but less clear, leaving out clarifiers like geographic reference.
Many respondents felt that the change at the College toward offering master’s degrees makes it an opportune time to consider a name change, and most felt that the College would benefit from using the word “university” in its title. A change to university would also remedy the erroneous notion unearthed by Sector Brands that Metro State is a “four-year community college” – a type of institution that doesn’t even exist.
Some, though, believed that using “university” could be deceptive and misleading if the College were not to offer more robust research and postgraduate opportunities.
Sector Brands concluded that Metro State has significant hurdles to address before formally pursuing any name change:
- The name Metropolitan State College of Denver is inextricably linked to the College’s mission, and any attempt to change the name will be viewed as an attempt to shift the mission and position in Colorado’s higher education hierarchy;
- Closing the gap of understanding between the vision of preeminence and how it serves to advance the College’s mission is a critical step before using any name change to advance the vision;
- Timing and cost of any proposed name change are significant concerns, especially in the current economic climate.
At the conclusion of Sector Brands’ half-hour presentation Board Chair Adele Phelan noted that the board was not taking any action on the matter any time soon. “You’ve given us considerable food for thought,” Phelan said. “This conversation will resume at the September Board meeting, or at the retreat, or both. There will be pros and cons and it’s going to be a very tough decision.”
Associate Vice President of Communications and Advancement Cathy Lucas, who is heading the assessment initiative, says she is pleased with the extensive and inclusive work that was done by Sector Brands. “This assessment provides a good foundation for ongoing dialogue with our constituents and the trustees in order to make an informed decision on whether or not we change Metro State’s name.”
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