I usually steer clear of regional politics and stuff like this for two reasons; firstly, I feel strangely detached from the antics of politicians and frankly find them tediously dull, inane and plain dunderheaded and secondly, my blood pressure is very important to me and I like to keep it low.
When you touch my alma mater, though, I am compelled to respond.
I went to the Memorial University of Newfoundland and studied with some incredible people. I was able to work with world-renowned experts in several fields of religious studies and complete a B.A. (Hons) and an M.A. of which I am rightfully proud. The years I spent at MUN introduced me to people who have shaped the foundations of my adulthood and taught me to learn, understand, analyse and discover.
I'm proud of what I did there and of the fact that I went there.
The Newfoundland blogosphere has been fairly humming lately with MUN's decision to go bland. (see posts by Owen's Mom, SkyLarkD, Cove Blogger) No longer will they be Memorial University of Newfoundland, rather they are to be Memorial University. The aim is to bring MUN up-to-date and revitalise the image of the university in the eyes of the world. With the careful consultation of branding specialists and marketing experts, the university is hoping to implant the image of MUN's new logo in the minds of the international academic community.
They're missing something.
Education is at once a tradition and a path of innovation. While we are all-too-conscious of the fact that the innovation is important, we forget that people are also paying for the tradition of a university. When you reinvent the image of something, you disassociate that thing from its past. While I can see how MUN might want to forget about it's recent blunders (see Craig Welsh's excellent post on the topic), they are forgetting that they will lose the positive features of the Memorial tradition; either forgetting, or they just don't care.
The new name is bland. It could be anywhere and memorialise anything. MUN is not a bland university. People don't go to university to get a bland education. People go to get degrees that shape the way they think, hone their talents and skills so that they can move forward through the world and make them somehow unique and employable. Bland you can get anywhere.
The new logo is devoid of the traditional crest and has been stripped down to a misshapen rectangle superimposed with negative space text and "UNIVERSITY" in standard caps beneath. What exactly that red blotch is supposed to represent is not really clear, but some have posited that it looks an awful lot like Alberta, tipped on its side. In removing the crest and reinventing a more generic logo, they debased the perceived solidity of the educational foundation of MUN. It looks like a place to buy a piece of real estate, not a place to learn some of the most important skills you'll ever be taught.
Someone paid too much to an ad company for something….. uninspired.
So now I can say I went to MU. Or not.
What I can say is that I'm having Alumni Affairs take me off their donations list and am seriously rethinking advising my child to go there in years to come.
What if this marketing campaign is reflected in the programming and teaching?
Must go lower blood pressure now.