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«EXCERPT: FRONT MATTER James Martin Owston, EdD Marshall University College of Education and Human Services Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of ...»

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James Martin Owston, EdD

Marshall University

College of Education and Human Services

Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the

Marshall University Graduate College

in partial fulfillment of the

requirement for the degree of

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership Committee Chair, Barbara L. Nicholson, PhD Powell E. Toth, PhD H. Keith Spears, EdD Charles H. Polk, EdD Huntington, West Virginia, 2007 Keywords: Higher education, rebranding, brand identity, college-to-university Copyright 2007 by James Martin Owston


During the years 1996 to 2005, West Virginia produced the greatest proportion (56.25%) of regionally accredited institutional rebrandings. In addition, the state experienced the greatest proportion (25%) of the specific “college-to-university” rebranding strategy than any other state. This study set out to discover the reasons why West Virginia produced such a high percentage of “college-to-university” changes. Using a mixed method approach of analysis, the researcher used quantitative and qualitative methods to determine the rationale, strategies, and implications of the college-touniversity change.

As West Virginia was viewed as a nested population in Appalachia, a population of 51 institutions that experienced the college-to-university change located in 10 states containing Appalachian counties was generated. Administrators from these schools were surveyed and the returns provided a basis for interviews of West Virginia administrators.

Additionally, 103 institutions in the United States that rebranded as universities were analyzed in regard to effects of the rebranding five years following the change. The variables studied included the following: enrollment, tuition, Carnegie Classifications, the numbers and types of graduate programs, and undergraduate selectivity.

The study focused on the rebrandings at the following West Virginia institutions:

The University of Charleston (1979), Salem-Teikyo University (1989), Wheeling Jesuit University (1996), West Virginia University Institute of Technology (1996), Mountain State University (2001), Concord University (2004), Fairmont State University (2004), Shepherd University (2004), West Virginia State University (2004), Ohio Valley University (2005), and the planned changes at West Liberty State College. This dissertation features information concerning the rationale for change, how the change was realized, the relationship of the change to regulatory bodies, reactions by stakeholders to the change, the effect of the change upon enrollment, the implications of institutional prestige, and administrative advice regarding the change. In addition, a case study on retaining an institutional brand was conducted of the “Allegheny” higher education brand and its usage among institutions in Appalachia was included. This case study examined how Allegheny College has protected its brand and gained brand dominance in the wake of the rebranding efforts of other institutions.

To understand the rebranding phenomenon, a total of 22 individuals were interviewed, 34 administrators returned surveys, and an additional 48 individuals provided information specific responses. A total of 102 unduplicated respondents participated in this study and these included: past and present university administrators, institutional staff, researchers, governmental representatives, alumni, accreditation liaisons, and educational consortia staff.


In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future. – Alex Haley (n.d.).

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. – Bishop Desmond Tutu (n.d.).

First, I dedicate this work to my wife, Pam, and my daughters, Lora and Kristen who unselfishly allowed me to finish this project over the last several years. They have been great. Never did they complain about me being away gathering research and conducting interviews. Nor did they complain about the living room becoming a reference resource room, although, Pam was glad to see all of the books, papers, and other sundry items finally boxed up and stored away. I thank my family for their unwavering support in this process, which simultaneously occurred during a year at work when my job responsibilities and workload increased five-fold. This often caused me to work late evenings and many weekends. As the girls started seeing printed copies of this work, finally they stopped asking, “What’s a dissertation?” You all are truly wonderful.

Second, I dedicate this work to my mother, Genevieve B. Akerberg, and my late father, Charles E. Owston. My mom and dad were the only ones in their immediate families to graduate high school. In turn, they wanted even more for their three sons.

They saw the value of a college education and wanted us to have this opportunity. They promised that the three of us would get at least four years of college and we all did. All of us have overachieved by going beyond just one college degree. Two of us now also have doctorates. While my father only lived to see one of us enter college, Mom continued to make our education possible even when it did not seem financially feasible. It was a great sacrifice for her to leave home every evening and work to accomplish this goal. Thanks Mom for believing in us in the first place and for being one of my greatest cheerleaders as I was writing this – always advising, “Jim, just get it done.” Well Mom, I finally did.

–  –  –

Although this work bears my name, many others deserve credit for their invaluable help. To Dr. Barbara L. (Bobbi) Nicholson: You have been the single greatest influence on this project. When Drs. Yeager and Eagle recommended you as a chair, I was taken aback by your rejection of my original dissertation plan – a history of my institution. You basically said, “I’m not going to let you do that – it has limited appeal.” You then suggested this project as it would provide more depth. I was not happy at first; however, after brooding for 20 minutes, I had an epiphany that, not only was this a good suggestion, it was a great idea and opportunity. While this project required much work, I had fun doing it. You have been an inspiration and a pleasure with whom to work. Every doctoral student needs both a chair as inspirational as you have been and a topic that they dearly love.

To Dr. Powell E. Toth: Thank you for the learning experiences over the years. I learned so much from your Principles of Leadership class and from studying for your comp questions. Thank you for willing to be with me from the very beginning.

To Dr. H. Keith Spears: Keith we’ve know each other since 1979 when we both worked for the Marshall speech department. Your many faceted career both in education and various aspects of the entertainment industry has been an inspiration. The crowning achievement was “We Are Marshall” – your promotional, marketing, and media expertise brought publicity to MU than no amount of money could ever buy.

To Dr. Charles H. Polk – Your entrepreneurial spirit as the president of Mountain State University is legendary. The engineering of two name changes and moving a junior

–  –  –

years that I served as your executive assistant than I could have discovered in reading hundreds of texts. Thanks for your continued support.

Thanks to all of the administrators that opened their homes and offices to me for the interviews. You all were very helpful in understanding this phenomenon. Special thanks are given to one university president: Dr. “R.” You kept me abreast on name changes that were occurring across the nation while I was writing the chapters and your help is evident throughout this work. Thanks so much in taking the time to have a personal interest in my dissertation. In the immortal words of Tennessee William’s character Blanche Dubois, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” (1951).

Thanks to others at the Marshall University Graduate College that helped in numerous ways. To Dr. Jack E. Yeager, my initial chair and advisor, thanks for interrupting your retirement to see me through my comprehensive exams and for your participation at my defense. Thanks to Dr. Rudy Pauley, Dr. Teresa R. Eagle, Dr.

Michael L. Cunningham, and Dr. Michael W. Galbraith for all of the support you provided along the way.

Finally, I am grateful for those higher education administrators whose colorful stories I learned through historical research. Some of these episodes were priceless.

Special mention is due to Dr. Theodore L. Gardiner, the third president of Salem College, who defended his institution armed with a shotgun and a revolver. The tenacity of this one man prevented an angry mob from burning Salem College to the ground. Prior to this research project, I had never heard of Gardiner or this story, but subsequently discovered that he was also my great-grandmother’s cousin. It’s a small world.

–  –  –








Changes at WV Public Four-Year Colleges, Campuses, & Graduate Institutions.......... 7 Concord University

Fairmont State University (FSU)

Marshall University Graduate College (MUGC)

Potomac State College West Virginia University (PSC)

Shepherd University

West Liberty State College (WLSC)

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM)

West Virginia State University (WVSU)

West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVUIT)

Changes in West Virginia Public Institutional Governing Boards

Changes at WV Community and Technical Colleges

Institutional Changes at West Virginia Private, Not-for-Profit Institutions.................. 26 Appalachian Bible College (ABC)

Mountain State University (MSU)

Ohio Valley University (OVU)

The University of Charleston (UC)

Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU)

Institutional Changes at West Virginia Proprietary Institutions

American Public University System (APUS)

Huntington Junior College (HJC)

Salem International University (SIU)

H West Virginia and the Amount of Institutional Rebranding

Statement of the Problem

Background and Literature Review

Reasons for Rebranding

Colleges to Universities

Rebranding and Strategic Planning

The nature of the name

Influences of name choice and adoption

Implementation of the change

Stakeholder Reactions to Institutional Rebranding

Existing and potential students.



The public at large

Implications Regarding West Virginia

vi Demographic realignment

Enrollment trends

Higher education over-saturation

Regional poverty

Student persistence issues

Theoretical Perspective

Purpose of the Study

Research Questions


Data Collection and Participants

Phase One

H Phase Two

Phase Three

Interview subjects

Interview questions

Data Analysis

Dissertation Structure






Regional Perspective

National Perspective

West Virginia and the Rationale for a College-to-University Transition

The Need to Survive

The University of Charleston.

Salem-Teikyo University (now Salem International University)

West Virginia University Institute of Technology

The Need for Security

Ohio Valley University

The Need for Status

Wheeling Jesuit University

Mountain State University

The Four Sisters – Concord, Fairmont, Shepherd, & WV State

The prequel

Graduate courses / graduate centers


Supplemental Reasons for College-to-University Name Changes in WV.............. 179 To align the institution with the current definition of the term university.......... 179 To better position the institution outside of West Virginia

To become more attractive to international students

For the economic benefit of the region



vii Changes in Organizational Structure

The Brand Selection Process

Types of Changes

Brand Name Selection

Concord University

Ohio Valley University

Mountain State University

Brand Implementation Strategies

Phase in/phase out

Combined branding

Sudden eradication

Institutional Colors and Mascot

Time Commitment

Funding and Finances

Cost of Rebranding

Sale and Leaseback Model

A Byrd in the Hand

That Wheeling feeling

Shepherding Byrd’s papers

A turning point

Back to the future

A prescription for success

The sky’s the limit

The have-nots



Statewide Governance of Higher Education

West Virginia’s Legislature and Higher Education

The Rebranding of West Virginia Institute of Technology

The Separation of Community and Technical College Component Schools.......... 274 The Four New Universities

Criteria for change

The road to good intentions

Is paved through hell

Degree Approving Bodies

Planning for Graduate Degree Approval

Graduate Approval Difficulty

Graduate Program on Hold



Data Collection

Reactions of Students

Initial Stakeholder Reactions in West Virginia

Cultural Shift

Direct Student Involvement

viii Reactions of the Institutional Boards

Board Composition

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