Kathleen Mabley

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

After three years of planning, the University switched over to a new academic logo for use online, in merchandise and in other matters related to UT. 

The University debuted its new logo, which features a burnt orange shield with the word “Texas” to the right of it, last month. The logo no longer uses the traditional “The University of Texas at Austin” wording in full. 

The idea to alter the logo came about as the result of requests from different schools and colleges at the University, according to Kathleen Mabley, the director of brand marketing and creative services.

“We have lots of different logos around campus and for the different schools here,” Mabley said. “It doesn’t build the brand of the University as much if everyone looks different, and there’s not one consistent academic symbol. We created a system that symbolizes both the University and its individual schools and organizations.”

The logo’s design was inspired by the University’s official seal, which displays a shield in its center. The new shield has been slightly altered but also features a star, a “book of knowledge” symbol and 18 tree branches that represent the 18 schools and colleges at UT.

The logo will be implemented gradually, according to Mabley. University officials first began using it on brochures, and it is now
featured on University social media profiles and printed merchandise. Nine of the 18 University schools and colleges have adopted it as of Thursday. By the end of this year, Mabley said she expects many of the already-existent old logos around campus will reflect the new design.

Unifying the academic trademark is important for a large-scale University, said Allen Quigley, the assistant director for branding and marketing at the College of Liberal Arts.

“I think that with such a complex organization [like UT], you really need a consistent symbol,” Quigley said. “I see the need for it. Making all of the colleges have the same symbol is greatly beneficial. We’re all part of the same family.”

The new logo is only meant for academic branding and will remain separate from the official school seal and the athletic burnt orange Longhorn symbol. Schools, colleges and organizations do not have to adopt the logo unless they want to.

Some of the student reaction to the new logo has been negative, especially online. Radio-television-film junior Jeanine Hulst, who commented on the logo on Facebook, said she thinks the University has made a mistake in its new logo.

“Our school is a traditional and high-end school, and our original logo represented that well,” Hulst said. “I don’t think the new logo is appealing or sophisticated. I understand what the University is trying to do, but I think they could have done a better job.”

The glowing Tower; burnt orange; the signature longhorn outline. These are all marks that will always be inextricably tied to the 40 Acres. They are more than just images — they serve as symbols of the traditions that come with being a part of our University. Why is it, then, that trademark rights for these signature symbols are so difficult for student organizations to gain access to?

Merchandise with these symbols seems to only come from official University offices, such as UT Athletics. This is because the Office of Trademark Licensing currently has very stringent restrictions in place dictating which groups can use these trademarked symbols.

“Only student organizations officially sponsored by a University office can access the University’s brand marks, which means that many of our student organizations have not been able to represent their spirit at University-approved events using UT-Austin marks and colors,” said Kathleen Mabley, director of brand marketing and creative services. This means that a huge number of hardworking student organizations have not been eligible to even request use of official marks and colors.

Why don’t student organizations just apply for official University sponsorship, then? First, there’s bureaucracy involved — you have to apply through the Office of the Dean of Students and get approved by the vice president before applying for trademark use with the Office of Trademark Licensing. Second, being sponsored means the organization’s purposes and activities must align with an academic or administrative unit, and a sponsor has to endorse, support, supervise and assume an oversight role for all aspects of the organization. Many organizations dedicated to the extracurricular enrichment of students don’t necessarily have a purpose that is directly affiliated with the school, and there are only so many hours of a professor or administrator’s day that can go towards serving as an advisor. It would be impossible to sponsor even half of the registered student organizations on campus. 

While restricting use of University trademarks is understandable, prohibiting nearly all — save less than 10 percent of student organizations — from even applying for use of the official marks and colors is unreasonable. Perhaps this policy was bureaucratic oversight from years past, but the message it sends is clear: The University doesn’t think general student organizations can adequately represent the UT brand. To assume that none of the non-sponsored student organizations on campus are capable of representing the University’s marks and colors in a respectable manner unreasonably expects very little of the majority of students. 

This is not a new issue. Student Government has been working closely with Mabley and Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly on these rigid trademark limitations for several years now. “After several meetings with UT Athletic Director Chris Plonsky over two years, we were able to come to an agreement that access should be granted through negotiated terms that Ms. Mabley and Dean Lilly championed,” said Nash Horne, former Student Government associate director and current student regent.

These new terms should be finalized within the coming months, according to Mabley. “The University believes that it is important to make the marks accessible to campus — but in a way that protects the brand value of the marks,” Mabley said. “When complete, the recent policy changes will clarify how registered student organizations — with the exception of political and religious student organizations — may apply for use of UT-Austin logos and trademarks.” Aside from extending the application for trademark use to all registered student organizations, the Office of Trademark Licensing also has plans to launch a new brand guidelines website to communicate the changes more clearly.

“There is a great deal of pride in being affiliated with the University of Texas, particularly for our student organizations,” Mabley said. “At the same time, a strong brand needs to be protected and managed.” Though the updated application for trademark use has not yet been released, the fact that Dean Lilly, Mabley and Plonsky have worked extensively with Student Government over two years to resolve this issue speaks volumes about this school.

“This conversation of policy change was something students for 20-some years dreamed of seeing, and it is through the leadership of these incredible women that we are here today,” Horne said. 

Where we are, however, is still only the brink of change. Though the involved offices seem confident that change is coming within this school year, the only thing that’s certain is that they must be held accountable to their promises. Only then will there be equal opportunity for trademark rights for all student organizations.

Huynh is a Plan II and business honors sophomore from Laredo.

Although the Longhorn Network is primarily focused on sports, it will feature its first academic series this October. The series, called “Game Changers,” will showcase faculty who have done extensive research in their respective fields.

“One of the best things about UT is its faculty,” said Kathleen Mabley, director of brand initiatives at the Office of the President. “The series is meant to bring a unique presentation of information not necessarily given in class. It also provides alumni with the opportunity for life-long learning.”

The first episode of “Game Changers” will premiere in October and will air three episodes this semester.

Business and communication professor John Daly will give a presentation called the “Politics of Ideas” in the first episode, which will be taped Thursday at 6 p.m. in the CMB Studio 6A. The presentation will involve the audience in interactive comprehension exercises led by Daly and will focus on the importance of following through with and promoting ones ideas. All UT students and alumni as well as the general public are invited to attend the taping Thursday.

“Good ideas go nowhere if you can’t advocate for them,” Daly said. “When students get out of school, they are often brilliantly trained in their fields, but they face an additional challenge. How well they advocate makes all the difference in [their] careers.”

The series had been planned before the creation of the Longhorn Network and creators decided to use the network as a medium for presenting the series to the public, Mabley said. She said a combination of faculty, staff and students across campus came together to choose “dynamic” faculty with different and innovative ideas for the show. Communication representatives also suggested speakers and worked with the Longhorn Network to pick ideas which would appeal to a TV audience, Mabley said.

“I have great hopes for the series,” Daly said. “It will hopefully let people around Texas and the world know about some of the most interesting research people at UT are conducting. Too few people appreciate how extraordinary our campus is when it comes to new discoveries that will change the world.”

Another episode will feature history professor H.W. Brands. Brands, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, has done extensive research in American history and is presently focusing his research on the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. He is also currently writing a biography of Franklin Roosevelt. Brands said his episode will discuss the history of the American financial policy and focus on the evolving role of the dollar.

Art history freshman Maggie Conyngham said she is interested in learning more about the series.

“I think this show will add something different to the Longhorn Network,” Conyngham said. “It will show people that the network is not just geared towards sports but to UT as a whole.” 

Printed on Thursday, September 29, 2011 as: 'Game Changers' series showcases high-achieving faculty

Abhijit Joshi, an alumnus of the Michener Center for Writers, has been distinguished as the Graduate School’s Outstanding Graduate Alumnus of the year.

Graduate studies spokeswoman Kathleen Mabley said the annual outstanding graduate award is given to students who get their master’s or doctoral degrees at UT and display exceptional achievements in their careers.

“What we do then is we give a $5,000 fellowship in the name of the outstanding alumnus. It is awarded to a graduate student in the same program for which the award winner graduated,” Mabley said.

Joshi has written some of the highest-grossing films in Bollywood, a term commonly used for the Hindi-language Indian film industry.

Joshi continues to work with highly successful Bollywood screenwriters, filmmaker and producers such as Yash Chopra, who is hailed as one of the most distinguished directors in the Indian film industry, said Michener Center program coordinator Marla Akin.

“We are really proud because this is the first time a graduate student from a creative program has won an outstanding alumnus award,” Akin said.

UT’s Graduate School celebrated its 100th anniversary with steel drums and sheet cakes on the West Mall on Wednesday.

More than 600 graduate students from diverse programs and their coordinators and advisers stopped by for the event.

Victoria Rodriguez, dean and vice provost of the graduate school, said the school has awarded about 125,000 master’s and doctoral degrees over the course of its history. According to the University’s website, the number of students enrolled in the school has increased from 32 in the first class to more than 11,500 this year. The school currently offers about 100 graduate programs.

“We’re very happy with our birthday celebration,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an important milestone.”

Many success stories punctuate the history of UT’s graduate school, said spokeswoman Kathleen Mabley. She said she recently edited “Changing the World,” a reference book that chronicles 100 stories of notable alumni.

J.M. Coetzee, who received his doctorate in English from UT and went on to win the Nobel prize in literature in 2003, is featured in the book. Other famous graduate school alumni include former first lady Laura Bush and former Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, Mabley said.

“Some names [in the book] you will recognize and others not,” she said. “All of these people, in their own ways, are changing the world.”

One less familiar name in “Changing the World” is Yohannes Gebregeorgis, who received his master’s in library science from the University. Gebregeorgis immigrated to the United States and eventually obtained a job as a children’s librarian in California, Mabley said. When he realized his native language, Amharic, did not have any children’s books, he decided to write one. The proceeds from his book went to improving literacy in Ethiopia.

“Changing the World” will be available in the University Co-op starting Nov. 12.

While remembering past successes was a part of recognizing the anniversary, the current students were not overlooked.

“In this day and age a graduate degree has become much more important to advance in your career,” Mabley said.

Many of the graduate students at the celebration, including landscape architecture student Britta Johanson, said in some fields the master’s degree is the new bachelor’s.

“I felt that my bachelor’s was pretty much worthless in getting me the career that I wanted,” she said.

Johanson, originally from Minnesota, also considered the University of California, Berkeley when selecting a program but settled on Texas because of two faculty members she wanted the opportunity to work with, she said.