What’s our name again?


Tony Petersen

Last Thursday, to great fanfare and accompanied by the Fresno State marching band and our ubiquitous mascot Time Out, Fresno State unveiled its new brand.

Three years of work, the advice of 2,500 people and $15,000 worth of professional consulting later, the new logo is… about the same as the old one.

Instead of a sun’s rays peeking out of the “F” in Fresno State, we now have a paw inside the “O.” And instead of “California State University, Fresno” underneath are the words “discovery,” “diversity” and “distinction.”

These are great design minds at work, people!

In all seriousness, I have no qualms with the new brand. On its own terms, it seems fine. What I’m more interested in is the name.

Members of the branding committee — yes, such a thing existed — discovered that most people refer to this distinguished institution as “Fresno State.”

(Before you shout “Duh!” keep in mind that this decision involved veteran graphic design professionals. They know what they’re doing.)

Thus, the committee figured that it would be a good idea to simply refer to the university’s informal name, Fresno State, instead of its formal name, California State University, Fresno.

The decision was a part of a long, illustrious history of the school’s name changes.

When the university was founded in 1911, it was dubbed Fresno Normal School. A decade later, it was changed to Fresno State Teachers College. In 1935, it shortened its name to Fresno State College.

It would remain that way until 1972, when the name was changed to California State University, Fresno.

And now, we are known as Fresno State.

With all the issues that a major collegiate institution must worry about, the name of this institution is one thing it is serious about.

The university’s website indicates 18 unacceptable ways of saying Fresno State. For instance, CSU Fresno and CSUF are unacceptable, as is Fresno State University. Fresno State College is unacceptable, despite the fact that there is a huge medallion at the corner of Maple and Shaw Avenues that says “Fresno State College.”

FS is unacceptable (looks like our baseball team may be in for a hat change), along with any incorrect iteration of California State University, Fresno.

In fact, the page includes an 86-word discourse on the appropriate use of the comma in our formal name.

I know about this seriousness firsthand. When I was editor in chief of The Collegian, we published a headline that included the acronym “CSUF” as a shorthand for California State University, Fresno.

Big mistake.

That day, a university official, who shall remain nameless, visited our offices and explained that referring to Fresno State as “CSUF” was unacceptable, and asked us to refrain from its usage henceforth.

Apparently, the university’s name is a big deal.

Despite this lighthearted criticism, the new logo appears to be a good one. Anyway, it feels good to change things around from time to time, kind of like reorganizing your work desk area.

 

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