DANBURY, CONN. — As the population of college-age students in Connecticut continues to decline, Western Connecticut State University has had to turn its vision across state lines in order to maintain enrollment levels by escalating recruitment efforts in nearby New York and New Jersey. While Connecticut residents remain the core of the student body, the addition of metro New York-area students not only serves to fill classrooms and residence halls — it also brings an added element of diversity to campus, which benefits all students’ educational experiences.
Potential students from the Northeast bring both similarities and differences to the table. “WestConn” might be recognizable to someone from Connecticut, but may be less familiar to someone from Rockland County or Long Island, New York, or central New Jersey. Just as each of these geographic areas may have a different name for a popular sandwich: grinder, wedge, sub or hoagie — it sometimes may not be clear that they are basically the same thing. Making sure the university is recognizable and known in a broader geographic area is a priority to aid in recruitment and retention.
In recognition of this, WCSU’s 2017 Strategic Plan, among other tasks, sought to identify a means through which to reach potential students both within and outside of our core geography. One way is through rebranding.
Originating as one of the action steps in the university’s 2017 Strategic Plan, a rebranding effort was commissioned in response to the plan’s mandate that the university create a distinct identity. Among the points the Strategic Plan sought to address were: the creation of a new slogan and logo for the university, leveraging WCSU as the “best of both worlds” (rural/urban; New England/NYC, etc.), and incorporating “success for a diverse community of learners” into our identity and marketing.
EFK Group, a digital marketing agency based in Trenton, New Jersey, won the bid to begin the rebranding work. Among its previous corporate and collegiate clients are Nike, Prince, several health systems, Kean University, Columbia University, Rutgers University and NC State.
The results of EFK Group’s research and recommendations were presented to the Faculty Senate and the President’s Council, and were adopted.
The result is a logo that recognizes our past — a shield has played a prominent role in our institution’s history, as demonstrated by our recent social media posts that featured previous logos — and embraces our future.
The university colors also have been strengthened and solidified — maintaining the base of blue and copper that we have been known for, but becoming more bold, strong and crisp. WCSU will continue to feature the cupola in its publications, but with the plethora of colleges and universities that use towers and cupolas, it has struggled to be unique and memorable to those who are new to our institution.
Recent enrollment numbers from WCSU Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Jay Murray indicate that the university’s efforts to reach in- and out-of-state students are working:
This fall, the number of first-year students is 919, the largest number since 2010 and a 10.5 percent increase over last year.
Enrollment from New York, where we have been recruiting for the past three years, is up 30 percent over last year, to 344 students.
For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.