GW to start planning moniker change decision with community feedback, marketing firm

Media Credit: Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor

Officials said Wednesday that GW has partnered with marketing consultant Sullivan & Company to determine the new moniker after a “competitive” bidding period. 

Officials said they will solicit recommendations and feedback about the University’s moniker change from community members at this year’s Alumni and Families Weekend, according to a release issued Wednesday.

The release states that community members can submit feedback on the change through an online engagement form, and staff will set up a booth in the University Student Center to ask for direction on the moniker decision Thursday and Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. The Board of Trustees announced it would start a “broad University engagement process” to decide on a new moniker by the 2023-24 academic year after trustees voted to retire GW’s nearly century-old Colonials moniker in June, following decades of student activism protesting the symbols’ connection to colonialism, slavery and racial discrimination. 

“Community engagement is truly at the heart of this whole process for developing the new moniker,” Ellen Moran, the newly installed vice president for communications and marketing, said in the release. “From the very beginning, we are striving to ensure that the GW community is the key to creating a moniker that we can all rally around for generations to come.”

Officials also announced the University has partnered with Sullivan & Company – a New York-based marketing consultant that specialized in branding and marketing in the higher education sector – to determine the new moniker after a “competitive” bidding period. Sullivan has been involved with branding projects at Brown, Duke, Columbia and Cornell universities, according to the firm’s website.

The release states that the moniker project team will attend the GW Athletics Hoop Fest to have informal conversations about the symbol with sports fans on Saturday. The release states the moniker project team will also host discussions with University stakeholders and GW archivists and historians to learn more about the University in a “deep, meaningful way.”

“GW was an incredibly formative place for me, and this project is personal – we want to make our school proud,” Alumna Rachel Quintner, a principal at Sullivan said. “I know what it means to be part of the GW community and want to ensure our team gets it right by doing deep research, doing a lot of listening and engaging with all the various constituents. We feel how important it is to find the right moniker that honors our past but also telegraphs something about our future as an institution.”

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