John Orbell is a UO Professor Emeritus of Political Science. The RG has his Op-Ed on UO’s “What the if?” branding campaign, here:
How to build a university’s reputation for greatness? The answer is straightforward: Actually be great, and the word will get around. Being great involves a lot more than just ginning up a public relations campaign to persuade potential students (and their parents) of the university’s greatness — which, if the university is not, in fact, great, is no more than high-priced lying.
The relevant fact for the University of Oregon is that, despite its membership in the prestigious 62-member Association of American Universities, the UO’s ranking by U.S. News & World Report has slipped to 106th.
Making an academically mediocre university actually “great” is not the same as persuading a 17-year-old to buy a particular brand of jeans, as one PR person suggested in The Register-Guard’s stories on May 16 and 17. The bad news is that it’s not that easy; the good news is that it might cost much less than hiring dozens of public relations people. …
This $20M 160/90 branding campaign has done more to destroy the faculty’s trust in the judgement of the new UO Board than their delegation of authority policy grab did. Time for them to turn it around, cancel the contract, and put the donor money into real investments in UO faculty and students.