The College is currently in a phase of examining its public image, including reexamining the logo, the stationary, some slogans, and other SMCM images according to President Urgo and Assistant Vice President of External Relations Keisha Reynolds, ’96.
“The effort is called Public Awarness,” Reynolds explained, “which means we are taking a look at the College’s public image. We are going through a process to [validate] who we are as an institution and then we are going to ensure the College’s outward image matches that.”
Once every couple of years or so, the College examines the image it puts out, according to Urgo, to make sure everything still resonates with the campus and our philosophies. Little things are looked at, like the stationary, the web page, and the logo to confirm that “we’re all still happy with that, [and that] it still speaks to us in terms of who we are,” Urgo said.
One issue that consistently arises, Urgo noted, is the name of the College. “That’s always seen as an issue with our so-called brand because it sounds like a Catholic school, and [we’re] not Catholic. Not only that, [we’ve] never been Catholic and we’re not private.” Urgo noted that often at fairs, the admissions staff will report that people will walk by and mention that they’re not interested in a Catholic institution, and it can make for an “awkward” discussion when it’s explained that we’re not.
For better or worse, the name of the College is sticking with us. “‘St. Mary’s College’ is our major identifier, obviously; it’s our name,” Urgo said. “No one is looking at a name change.”
But we will look at “the stories we tell about ourselves,” he explained. The slogans like “public liberal arts college,” “public honors college,” and “at Historic St. Mary’s City,” as well as things like the sailboat logo and the stationary, will be closely considered to see if they “are still fresh and relevant. And if [they’re] not, we’ll make changes. ”
The College is working with Marketpoint, a consulting firm, which conducts focus groups with the College community including students, faculty, staff, and trustees, “in order to take a deeper look at who we are,” Reynolds said.
“After the public awareness initiative is complete, we will have refined messages and possibly tweaks to our logo to be used in the external materials like admissions materials, articles and advertisements.”
Urgo explained that at Hawktoberfest, community members including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors were asked a series of questions about these issues to gauge public opinion, questions like, “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of St. Mary’s College?”
Urgo also said that he didn’t believe any changes of serious consequence would be made to our image. “I don’t foresee any drastic changes. No one is looking at a name change,” Urgo said. “But I would expect we’ll see some subtle updates in visuals.”