Less confusion nationally, but more at home

The response was vehement.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS??” read a post on a Facebook group page titled “Do NOT Change University of South Florida’s name,” the day University officials announced the school would be adopting theaddition of “Tampa Bay” for branding.

“SERIOUSLY!” the group posted a few minutes later with unofficial logos depicting the new tag. “Are they serious?!SAY NO!”

University Spokesman MichaelHoad, who announced the addition of the tagline Nov. 30 in hopes of helping the University achieve national name recognition, said he had no problem with the group.

“(The group) made me feel good,” he said. “This place has come so far so fast that people don’t want anybody to change the name because they are proud of it. I think that’sfantastic. Can you imagine the alternative – if students popped up and said, ‘Who cares?'”

However, he said, USF’s name is not changing, much to the misunderstanding of many.

After articles ran in The Oracle and the Tampa Bay Times about the added tagline,Hoadsaid he received a call from Bay News 9 requesting permission to film when University signs were being replaced with the new name.

No signs will need to be replaced,Hoadsaid.

“There is no formal change to the name, there is no additionto the name, it’s not a new name,”Hoadsaid. “The aim is to help people nationally figure out where we are.”

Hoadsaid he has had to speak with members of thecommunity to explain that the tagline does not equate to a name change. Instead, the “Tampa Bay” tagline will join the “University of South Florida” name on all promotional materials.

The idea came in 2008, when a surveyHoadconductedof presidents, provosts andadmissions officers at several Florida universities concluded that universities around the nation andin Florida were confused aboutUSF’s location.

A task force of 12 faculty, staff and students was assembled to investigate USF’s nationalreputation before the tagline was officially added.

“During the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010,” the task force report said, “USF’s College of Marine Science received global recognition for its fine research and science on the impact of the spill. An article in TIME Magazine referred to USF as SFU.”

Peter Howard, chairman of the task force, said the group looked into ways USF could promote its name nationally.

“What the task force looked at were opportunities we identified that were both short term, easy to implement suggestions along with the long term, being a three year marketing plan that would extend out beyond just the local area,”he said.

The task force also made seven other recommendations topromote USF’s image, including training faculty on interacting with media and marketing USF as adestination spot for arts andculture.

Hoad said the tagline and other suggestions have no set date for implementation because ofbudget cuts slashing the campus national advertising budget, though billboards featuring the geographical tagline have sprung up across the region, saying “USF is Tampa Bay.”

“You can’t stop planning because of the recession,” Hoad said. “The last time we did a nationaladvertising campaign was in 2007.”

The task force is still planning advertising strategies to determine the best outcome for the university,he said. The communications and marketing departments areconsidering advertising inpublications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, as well asnewspapers to inform readersabout USF’s colleges, Howard said.

USF’s national reputation, Howard said, must be built up from a local standpoint.

“If we can identify stronger with Tampa and make USF define and transform what Tampa is, which is what we’re doing, then that just really solidifies our reputationlocally and will help grow ourreputation statewide andnationally,” he said.