As part of a program to improve the public image of the school, UR is working on creating a new logo. The logo will be part of a fully integrated system designed to give the University a more recognizable identity.

The notion for a school identity came from the so-called “Volkmann Report” put together by Fred Volkmann of Washington University. One of President Joel Seligman’s earliest actions in his new job was to call in Volkmann to put together an evaluation of the Rochester image. The proceeding document outlined fifteen ideas for change, one of which was “Initiate a University-wide Identity and Branding Process.”

Vice President of Communications Bill Murphy was put in charge of the endeavor. He formed a graphic identity group comprised of 28 people with experience in publications and web design, including 10 graphic designers. Over the course of the summer they worked on generating graphic designs, bouncing each other’s ideas around in meetings and then going back to the drawing board.

The group also heard from Nancy Martin, a librarian in the Rare Books and Special Collections Department, who gave what she called a “refresher course” on the heritage of the University. The speech included symbols and iconography, such as the dandelion and the Rochester seal.

“At one point, we had 229 different designs up on a wall in Wilson Commons for people to react to,” Murphy said.

However, the process did not just entail picking and choosing from the available artwork. The ideas brought to the table were guidelines, not choices. Murphy knows this from his experience working at the University of Illinois, where he developed their logo.

“You don’t just start out with a set of criteria,” Murphy said. “Things you think are important often surface with the progress. You learn a lot.”

After some time the number of possible logos was whittled down to 17, where it is today.

The current logo is not used very thoroughly and most students would be hard pressed to describe it on command. For example, a scattering of business cards from around the University show that over half of them do not even have the logo on them.

“The idea is to first create a logo and then a thorough identification system,” Murray said.

This system would consist of specified typefaces and a palate of colors that goes beyond the normal yellow and blue in addition to the logo. The main goal is to establish reinforcement, which will keep Rochester on people’s minds.

The process is not over. On Sept. 27, there will be a Town Hall Meeting where students will get a chance to give their input on a number of potential logos. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Gowen Room in Wilson Commons.

According to Murphy it is very important to have a student reaction. He also believes that this logo, and the larger graphic identification system, will play a big part in establishing Rochester’s reputation as a great school.

“Student should care about the success of the development,” he said. “It is one ingredient that plays directly into the value of their degrees.”Wrobel can be reached at

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