Contrary to published reports Wednesday morning, university officials say they have no intention of trying to downplay, erase or otherwise exile the familiar hyphenated reference to the local school from its own lexicon.
The Associated Press published a story out of Lawrence claiming that university officials told Gov. Sam Brownback Tuesday they believe dropping the K-State name would improve the school’s national recognition. The article said KSU President Kirk Schulz asserted that the university “needs to be called Kansas State” as it seeks to increase its scholarly rankings among universities.
The reaction of university officials when the reports surfaced Wednesday morning could be summed up in three words: true but false.
Jeff Morris, the school’s vice president for marketing, acknowledged that Schulz had indicated the university intends to refer to itself as “Kansas State University” or “Kansas State” on academic occasions such as out of state academic recruitment efforts or conferences. He said research over several years has consistently indicated that on the East Coast, for example, the term “K-State” creates confusion when it is used solely in academic contexts. That’s because there are other institutions that also refer to themselves as “K-State,” the best known being Kent State University in Ohio.
“We’ve been branding ourselves (academically) as Kansas State and Kansas State University for decades,” said Schulz.
But, officials added, none of that is germane in and around Kansas, and none of it pertains to athletics, where the K-State profile is dominant.
“The nickname K-State has become common to those of us in the state and region, and we recognize the strength of being known to certain audiences as K-State,” Schulz said. Morris said the rebranding effort really boils down to “trying to use the appropriate name for the appropriate audience.” Beyond that, he added, it’s nothing they haven’t been doing for a few years now.
Even if university officials for some reason wanted to strike K-State from the lexicon, Morris acknowledged they couldn’t do it because the linkages are so established. “I was calling it K-State when I was a student here in the 1970s,” he noted. “It’s part of our brand DNA. It is not going away.”