It is always an interesting challenge to work with an institution that is going through a brand identity crisis. Brand messaging becomes a moving target as we focus on language to communicate a new, evolving mission. “Crisis” of course is the other side of opportunity.
I have worked with institutions that were evolving from regional college to national university status; adopting a brand for the first time; or, as in the case of Florida Polytechnic, starting a university from scratch. These are exciting opportunities for the institutions as well as the writer.
I like this challenge–which is why I’ve been enjoying my work with the University of Southern Maine. As I write copy for USM’s undergraduate viewbook, recruitment and alumni newsletters, or website landing pages, I am constantly integrating freshly minted ideas about what the university is and should be, now that it has adopted a new mission as “Maine’s Metropolitan University.”
John Diamond, a specialist in stakeholder communications in the higher education space, recently shared an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that had a description of a metropolitan university. The article, entitled Rebirth of the Research University, was written by Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks of U.C. Berkeley, and described a metropolitan university as follows:
“…an institution that combines accessibility to education for a diverse population, representative of the region and the nation, with an academic program grounded in the research and the production of new knowledge.”
I will add this to my growing collection of definitions of the metropolitan university and see what sticks.