Shaping Our Future

Name Research

One of the goals in Shaping Our Future: The Strategic Plan for Southwestern University 2010-2020 focuses on “Building Far-Reaching Visibility and Recognition.” In the increasingly competitive recruitment environment of higher education, strong and widespread recognition is essential. 

January 28, 2011

After a long and thorough discussion, Southwestern’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the following motion:

In support of the overarching vision for Southwestern University in the Strategic Plan, the Board reaffirms its commitment to build far-reaching visibility and recognition by conducting and adequately funding a comprehensive visibility campaign using the name Southwestern University.

In making their decision, the Board considered Lipman Hearne’s research findings, listened to comments and concerns, and received recommendations from both the Research Task Force (made up of alumni and representatives from campus, the Board of Visitors and the Board of Trustees) and Southwestern’s Senior Staff.

There is work to be done to make Southwestern a nationally known liberal arts and sciences institution of the highest caliber. The research showed that Southwestern University is not well known among prospective students−those who live within Texas and particularly those who live outside Texas−and that most people do not associate the name “Southwestern University” with a private liberal arts institution.

We ask you to join with us and support Southwestern University through your actions and your gifts. Be Southwestern - our efforts can begin immediately! We can refer students, share our Southwestern experiences and promote Southwestern through our personal and professional networks.


While Southwestern has made headway in enhancing awareness of its reputation, incidents of mistaken identity still occur. Over the years, alumni and others have expressed their frustration when employers, high school and graduate school counselors, or the media are either completely unfamiliar with Southwestern or mistake it for another institution.

Before Southwestern initiates a broad-based visibility effort, we will conduct research to better understand the value of the University’s brand and how it relates to the University’s reputation and answer questions, such as:

  • In what ways does the name—Southwestern University—support and reinforce the liberal arts experience that the University provides? In what ways does it hinder those efforts?
  • Is the name—Southwestern University—broadly recognized? Regionally? Nationally? What associations does it prompt?
  • In what ways is the name—Southwestern University—an asset? In what ways might it be a detriment?

Funded by the Amon Carter Foundation and other gifts, the University retained the Chicago firm Lipman Hearne to oversee the research effort. Lipman Hearne specializes in marketing and communications exclusively within the nonprofit sector, especially higher education.

Transparent Process

Southwestern wants to keep you informed, answer your questions and listen to your concerns. Click here to easily access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), as well as the research timeline, through the University’s strategic planning website. Once the survey findings are vetted by the Board of Trustees, a report will follow early in 2011. In the meantime, if you have questions, you may contact Associate Vice President for University Relations Cindy Locke at