[erlang-questions] Off-topic question about Universities

Lloyd R. Prentice lloyd@REDACTED
Thu Jul 6 05:36:40 CEST 2017

Hi Richard,

I wouldn't discount your thinking on the matter.

Changing the well-established logo of a well-regarded institution should not be undertaken lightly. You risk severing the long-established favorable associations, e.g. the symbolic value attached to your mark.

It might be done to "freshen up" an image from stogy to contemporary and forward-looking, for instance, or to signal a change in vision or direction.

Or it might be done to deflect from an unfavorable image, but that doesn't sound like the case with your university. 

But tradition is a compelling value for universities. At their best, universities provide a detached, considered, conservative (in the best sense of the word) perspective on the challenges of their host culture. They preserve and champion the best of the culture while, at the same time offering up new ideas and enriched knowledge to better understand and improve the human condition. In all regards, the widespread perception of stability is a virtue.

I can't speak of European universities, but universities across the U.S. have had to cater to students who who are looking for little more than having their ticket punched for entry into the job market. Unfortunately, many politicians and business leaders see universities strictly through a business lens. How can they better train students to fill the needs of the current job market? How can university research better support the current perceived needs of business and government? This thinking gets translated into the notion that universities should be run like businesses--- trim the "fluff," offer more amenities and less rigor to students, reward the football coaches while paying adjunct faculty so little they need second and third jobs to support their families, empower the administration over faculty.

It all comes down to the mission of your university. Until there's widespread consensus   across all stakeholders re: what the university stands for and how it needs to adapt to a changing world, a new logo won't accomplish much and may, indeed, detract from other work that needs to be done.

So, Richard, as a member of the faculty, it's quite appropriate for you to ask why you need a new logo and if it's the very best use of available funds.

All the best,


Sent from my iPad

> On Jul 5, 2017, at 9:23 PM, Richard A. O'Keefe <ok@REDACTED> wrote:
> The thing is, we *have* a logo.
> http://www.otago.ac.nz/administration/service_divisions/external-engagement/otago017269.html
> More precisely, we have a portrait version, and a landscape version, each with
> colour (preferred) and black-and-white (allowed) variants.
> The logo contains the University crest, granted by the Lyon King of Arms in 1948.
> That's not about to change.  The rest of the logo is words, the name of the
> University in English and Māori (without which the crest would be unintelligible).
> The name of the University isn't about to change.  So there's not much they *can*
> change.
>> On 6/07/2017, at 7:40 AM, <lloyd@REDACTED> <lloyd@REDACTED> wrote:
>> Over time and the cumulative interactions and experiences many people have with your institution, your logo takes on significantly weighted symbolic value. It becomes invaluable in and of itself. Harvard University aggressively enforces proprietary rights to it's logo.
> Yes, but surely that is an argument for *not* changing the logo?
> I have been a student at two Universities and given lectures at four.
> Until yesterday, I couldn't have told you what any of their logos looked like.
> I see the logo on a van, let's say, and my brain goes "blob, University, stuff,
> probably a University vehicle then."
>> You might as your administrator just exactly what problem he's attempting to solve and what else he is doing to solve it?
> She.  Downsizing Humanities, including some staff with seriously good international
> reputations.  The latest fear is that 300 general staff may lose their jobs.
> If I'm reading the 2016 annual report correctly, the University had a surplus
> of NZD 21.377 million last year, up from NZD 16.143 million the year before.
> A professor of accounting, who co-authored a book with my father, told me
> about 40 years ago, "Richard, never go into business.  You just don't
> think the right way for it."  Clearly he was right.

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