WPI Wire, Vol. 10, No. 2 - Summer 1996

A sharper image for WPI

Editor's note: In July, President Edward A. Parrish and his cabinet voted to implement new guidelines regarding the identity of WPI and the use of its name. Letters describing the change were sent to faculty, staff and alumni. Following is an overview of the process that led to the cabinet's decision and an explanation of what form these changes will take.

Over the past couple of years, WPI has undertaken a number of studies involving trustees, faculty, students and administrators of how it is perceived by some of its most important audiences, including alumni, prospective applicants, corporate partners, foundations and the general public. These studies have attempted to define the image these audiences have of WPI, how recognizable the name is for them, and how the university is positioned in their minds relative to similar institutions.

Cognizant of the importance of presenting a clear and consistent message in any successful marketing effort, the cabinet reviewed these studies and looked carefully at how the university uses its various logos and names. The conclusion they reached was similar to one reached by the authors of several of the studies: that the diversity of names for the institution diffuses, rather than sharpens, its image.

Accordingly, the cabinet decided that as of the start of the new fiscal year (July 1, 1996), WPI, rather than the full legal name, will be used wherever practical, including letterhead and athletic uniforms.

"It is important to recognize that we are not changing our name, just defining how we present it to the public," says John L. Heyl, vice president for university relations. "The heritage and traditions associated with our name will be retained; the letters WPI will still stand for Worcester Polytechnic Institute and our seal will continue to be used in its present form.

"We believe that streamlining our public persona is an important step in the process of building the national reputation that WPI's outstanding educational programs truly merit, and that presenting a unified look and message will lead to a clearer image for this institution and greater and more consistent recognition for our strengths and heritage."

Heyl encourages those with questions about this new direction to share their thoughts with him at jlheyl@wpi.wpi.edu or 508-831-5874.

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