New Tagline Sought to Better Represent School

The existing tagline can be seen beneath the words "Southwestern Adventist University."

The existing tagline can be seen beneath the words “Southwestern Adventist University.”

After discussing what Southwestern Adventist University is known for with several faculty and staff, Dr. Ken Shaw, new university president, concluded that the answer was unclear. In order to improve the positioning of the university, Shaw decided to put together a Tagline Committee that will work to create a tagline to better represent Southwestern.

“Though scripturally sound, the current tagline, ‘The Beginning of Wisdom’ doesn’t convey to our various constituencies the essence of who we are,” Shaw explains. “I shared the following quote [from higheredtaglines.com] with the faculty and staff at a meeting: ‘Your tagline should be a powerful sound-byte – an engaging, distinctive and memorable turn of phrase that reflects the tone and tenor of your brand and what you offer your constituents.”

Darcy Force, director of marketing and public relations, shares her view on the suggested change.

“From a marketing standpoint, we want the tagline to better define what Southwestern is all about,” she says.

According to Force and Shaw, the current tagline doesn’t fully encompass what Southwestern stands for and can easily be misinterpreted.

“The tagline in its present form may suggest to some that Southwestern Adventist University is where people obtain wisdom,” says Shaw. “I hope that this has started well before students arrive here.”

Most students are on board with the idea of changing the tagline, understanding that it is simply part of the process of improving the school and strategic planning. Some, however, fear that moving the tagline away from Scripture might lose the essence of what they feel Southwestern stands for: a Christ-based institution.

“I love that our current tagline is derived from a Bible text,” a senior biology major says. “‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,’ is a truth that we as a student body can stand firmly in. I understand that there is always room for improvement, but I hope the new tagline positions our school as a Christ-based institution more than anything else.”

The Tagline Committee began brainstorming and gathering ideas in late September. Suggestions from students have been obtained and discussed, and now input from faculty and staff of different departments is being gathered.

Once the new tagline is in place, a new set of branding standards will need to be established and enforced. Along with the logo and school seal, Southwestern merchandise like stationary sets, pens, business cards, envelopes and letterheads will all need to be changed and reordered. Mike Agee, chairman of the tagline committee, said that it might be a while until the change actually takes place.

“Dr. Shaw has indicated he would like to present [the tagline], along with much of a new five-year plan to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in February,” Agee explains.  “I would guess that work will take place on standards and logo design this year, with it appearing on promotional pieces and other printed material beginning next school year.”

Shaw also has academic departments working up ideas for their own taglines. In the end, he wishes that each department and the university as a whole will be clear about who they are and what they do.

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