On a night when President Seligman spoke at length about strategic planning and a Master Facilities Plan as means to improve and modernize the University, Vice President of Communications Bill Murphy addressed the crowd about a seemingly smaller change that will nevertheless shape UR’s identity for years – the school’s new logo.
“This is not something that we are going to decide on this year, and then again next year and the year after that,” Seligman said. “The new logo is likely to be the identity of the University for decades.”
Seligman and Murphy spoke to a crowd at a well-attended Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday night in the Gowen Room. Seligman addressed topics such as strategic planning, transportation and parking and the Rochester’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy. After a short question and answer period, Murphy discussed the process and current progress of the search to develop a new logo and graphic identity for UR.
The process of choosing a logo began last summer, when Murphy formed a Graphic Identity Group (GIG) comprised of 28 staff and faculty members with experience in publications and web design. The goal of the GIG was to form a new, distinct graphic identity for UR, which would include some combination of elements like an official seal, an informal seal and a “spirit mark,” probably a stylized letter “R.” Murphy chose to use University employees as opposed to a professional consulting group, which has cost schools like Rutgers as much as $170,000.
“We’re taking an entirely different approach,” he said. “We’ve used folks on staff, and I think we’ve come up with some pretty good stuff.”
In the past few days, Murphy has been receiving feedback on the five remaining logos from the original catalogue of over 225, including an address he gave to the faculty senate last night.
“Things have changed since this morning,” Murphy said. “We take the feedback very seriously.”
Murphy prefaced the display of the five logos by showing some rejected UR logo ideas and logos from a number of similar colleges. He showed the logos in slideshow format and the audience reacted audibly to each one.
Each logo consisted of a yellow and blue shield to the left of the words “University of Rochester.” The logos all shared many elements, including the shield, the colors and the phrase “Meliora.” All but one included the three icons representing arts and sciences, music and medicine that adorn our current seal, and three of them incorporated 1850, the year UR was founded.
The most popular logo was probably the most similar to our seal, with a yellow banner reading “Meliora” running across the middle of a blue shield and separating two of the icons from the third. Students were skeptical about one that featured a large dandelion in the middle of a white background which generated a few chuckles from the audience. However, people generally seemed impressed with how official and modern the logos looked.
“We’re headed in the direction of sophistication, and that’s great,” Students’ Association President and senior Alex Pearlman said.
Murphy described the elements that he was looking to incorporate into the logo, including the phrase “Meliora,” the dandelion, the yellowjacket and the school colors, yellow and blue. However, Murphy stressed that he wanted to include symbols such as the dandelion as much as possible.
“We don’t have many symbols here,” he said, mentioning Rush Rhees Library as the only obvious one. “The dandelion is one, and it has such a back story.”
Murphy said that he hopes the logo will be determined by April, after more feedback this month and in March.
He has over 25 years of communications experience and used to work for the University of Illinois, where he developed their logo. Murphy has accomplished a lot since arriving at UR in March 2006, and his progress has impressed Pearlman.
“Bill Murphy is so interested in not only this project, but any project that involves students,” Pearlman said, citing his choice to hire a student life publicist, Enid Arbelo.
“His leadership in bringing her in is a testament to how much he cares for the student body,” he said.Wrobel is a member of the class of 2007.