By STEVEN NALLEY
Mississippi University for Women may not be exclusively for women anymore, but MUW president Jim Borsig said that does not mean the university‚Äôs name is changing anytime soon.
The idea of changing MUW‚Äôs name has come up continually, Borsig said, ever since he interviewed for MUW‚Äôs top position, and he has never wished to dodge the issue. He believes dialogue is healthy when dealing with such issues, but a recent campus dialogue made it clear that at least one variation on the existing MUW name has broad support.
‚ÄúAfter everything was said and done, it is so clear to us (that) it doesn‚Äôt matter what our name is; we are known as ‚ÄėThe W,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Borsig said. ‚ÄúThis came from focus groups using our current students, saying, ‚ÄėThis is how we refer to the university.‚Äô ‚ÄėThe W‚Äô has got to be how we talk about ourselves. That is clearly a unifying element of marketing the university.‚ÄĚ
MUW announced results Monday from six campus dialogue sessions held during the fall semester, where topics such as MUW‚Äôs name were discussed to evaluate the university‚Äôs brand and market that brand to prospective students.
Nearly 160 MUW stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and community representatives, convened for the six interactive sessions held by idgroup, a branding and communications firm based in Pensacola, Fla. Borsig said he discovered idgroup through its senior creative director, Gail Spruill Shaw, who was Alumni of the Year when she graduated from MUW in 1994.
‚ÄúShe understood the institution,‚ÄĚ Borsig said. ‚ÄúI had been through (idgroup‚Äôs) process. It was research-based, so it had an academic validity to it. (The six sessions) were structured to help identify core beliefs (and) core values. This step is pre-strategic planning.‚ÄĚ
Mona Amodeo, idgroup president, gave the Monday report, which she said identifies seven specific areas for MUW to market. She said MUW‚Äôs greatest strength is a unique experience for students, faculty and staff that differentiates it from other schools.
‚ÄúMUW provides a¬†personalized, intimate, quality four-year public education experience. This is very different¬†from¬†larger ... four-year institutions or community colleges,‚ÄĚ Amodeo said. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôll see The W be more aggressive in telling¬†its¬†story,¬†as well as¬†creating¬†a consistent visual image that reflects the core identity of the institution and¬†connects to the target markets.¬†They should stand out and stand for who¬†they¬†are.¬†They should give attention to aligning ‚ÄėThe W experience‚Äô with¬†external communications.‚ÄĚ
Formal strategic planning from idgroup‚Äôs findings is yet to come, Borsig said, but MUW‚Äôs marketing arm is already making use of these findings. The effects on MUW‚Äôs student recruitment materials will be immediate, he said, and a new MUW website is currently under development.
‚ÄúI think, over the next few months, we will begin to see this in student materials. It will take some time to roll through everything we do,‚ÄĚ Borsig said. ‚ÄúThe focus of everything we‚Äôre doing in this arena is about marketing the university to prospective students.‚ÄĚ
One of the key slogans that Borsig said came out of the sessions was the idea that MUW‚Äôs past and present form ‚ÄúOne Long Blue Line.‚ÄĚ The ‚ÄúLong Blue Line‚ÄĚ is a traditional name for MUW‚Äôs alumni base, but Borsig said the new variation places a new emphasis on current and prospective students and on the idea that current students, like their predecessors, receive an education as worthwhile as any in the nation.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not so much about our alumni as it is about the tradition our alumni have built,‚ÄĚ Borsig said. ‚ÄúIn every decade, we have had graduates who have been successful and made a difference in every field.‚ÄĚ
One of MUW‚Äôs most famous alumni, Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty, inspired another slogan. Welty once said, ‚ÄúAll serious daring starts from within,‚ÄĚ and Amodeo said this led to the slogan ‚ÄúTo Dare. To Dream. To Achieve.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis phrase captures the core essence and the spirit of the institution,‚ÄĚ Amodeo said. ‚ÄúIt defines the central experience of those who pass through the W. It is also a call to action.‚ÄĚ