At the beginning of a new semester, three little letters are getting a lot of attention on the SIU campus.
Those letters, laid out in a maroon Palatino font and highlighted in white, represent the most visible part of Chancellor Rita Cheng’s new $1.5 million marketing strategy for the university, but their simplicity belies the intense reaction that has come from some corners of a campus still grappling with fiscal woes and labor strife.
Cheng, focused on increasing SIU enrollment, said last month the new logo and marketing strategies “will pay big dividends going forward” as she attempts to bolster sagging student numbers.
To others, including some Times letter writers (see page 5 for letters related to this subject), the new logo “adds insult to injury and has nothing to do with the substantive identity of SIU.” Cheng even faced criticism last month from the university’s Board of Trustees.
“I think [the SIU administration] thought there’d be a reaction,” university spokesman Rod Sievers said Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone anticipated we’d be accused of spending $1.5 million on a new logo.”
As Sievers puts it, the new logo cost much less than the much-referred-to $1.5 million. Instead, the university paid about $950,000 for the logo design and other marketing services to Chicago-based firm Lipman Hearne — an organization chaired by SIU alumnus Tom Abrahamson.
The remaining $550,000 in that $1.5 million figure, Sievers says, has yet to be spent, although it is expected that it will be spent on future advertising. He says these expenditures represent only a marginal difference compared to what the university spent on marketing the previous year.
Still, on a campus still reeling from budget shortfalls and lagging enrollment, the need for a new logo has been questioned — especially when the university instituted a new campus-wide logo as recently as 2005. That logo, which prominently displays an image of the Pulliam Hall clock tower, is featured on signs and maps across the campus.
In fact, it’s not the only one, and a quick look confirms that a number of past SIU logos remain in use on buildings and signs all over campus. While one particular logo — a stylized, italicized “SIU” — is meant to be used exclusively by Saluki Athletics, the campus continues to tell the story of past university marketing initiatives.
“You can find all but two (past) logos on this campus,” said Jay Bruce, design manager for University Communications.
Phase-out of the recent Pulliam Hall logo won’t be a concerted effort, Sievers said. Instead, departments on campus have been encouraged to use up existing letterhead and logo-emblazoned items, replacing them with the new logo only when the current stock has run out. As for campus signage, the new logo will be phased in as pieces need repair or replacement.
In the end, Sievers says the new logo and marketing strategy are expected to have an impact, but he doesn’t expect that forecast to please everyone.
“Change is sometimes hard to accept,” he said.