Reality trumps fiction in "branding the U."
Another kindred spirit weighs in on the branding of universities. It's in today's NY Times op-ed. (reg req)
Excerpt from Stephen Budiansky's op-ed piece:
I RECENTLY did some research for a satirical novel set at a university. The idea was to have a bunch of gags about how colleges prostitute themselves to improve their U.S. News & World Report rankings and keep up a healthy supply of tuition-paying students, while wrapping their craven commercialism in high-minded-sounding academic blather.
I would keep coming up with what I thought were pretty outrageous burlesques of this stuff and then run them by one of my professor friends and he'd say, Oh, yeah, we're doing that.
One of my best bits, or so I thought, was about how the fictional university in my novel had hired a branding consultant to come up with a new name with the hip, possibility-rich freshness needed to appeal to today's students. Two weeks later, a friend called to say it was on the front page of The Times: "To Woo Students, Colleges Choose Names That Sell." Exhibit A was Beaver College, which had changed its name to Arcadia University. Applications doubled.