July 15, 2015

Race-Based Admissions Bans On Medical Schools

Affirmative Action is still a highly debatable, controversial issue in medical school admissions. In institutions of higher education, affirmative action refers to admission policies that provide equal access to education for those groups that have been historically excluded or underrepresented, including women and minorities. Since the Supreme Court in the Fisher v. University of Texas case voided the lower appellate court’s ruling in favor of the University and remanded the case, there has been an even greater debate about the best practices in admissions.

Eight states have banned medical schools from considering race in admissions, which leads those schools to try other ways to recruit a diverse student body without explicitly asking for race. Schools are increasing their outreach in minority communities to try and reach more diverse applicants. Many schools look at applicants with other socio-econmic factors, like those who have overcome adversity, shown leadership, and displayed a variety of different activities. Others have been giving preference to working-class students or those whose parents did not attend college.

Since race-based admissions bans have passed, there has been noticeable changes in the amount of colored students attending college in states without affirmative action. Before the bans passed, approximately 18% of students were of color, and now after the bans, approximately 15% of students in states with bans are of color. In the example below from the NY Times, Hispanic freshman students at Berkeley have dropped significantly after approving the statewide ban on affirmative action.

Affirmative Action at Berkeley

Admissions offices are forced to think outside of the box to be able to sustain a diverse class.  At the University of Texas at Austin, they have enforced the Top 10 Percent plan, which allows three-quarters of the incoming class to be automatically admitted based on the students’ position in their high school class. The remaining students of the class are admitted after review of academic achievement and other factors.

What is your school proactively doing to maintain a diverse incoming class?

May 13, 2015

Medical School Curriculum Changes

Prospective students in upcoming classes for medical school are going to have a significant change in curriculum than their previous peers. Many medical schools are beginning to take into account the undeniable fact that medical training for doctors should change as the practice of medicine is changing.

Typical medical school curriculum usually involves teaching based around  Abraham Flexner‘s once-famous ’2 Plus 2 Model’, which involves two years in the classroom and two years shadowing in hospitals. The curriculum for medical school is now starting to include classes meant to build communication skills, teamwork, and adaptability to change. The new MCAT makeover released last month, April 2015, has included testing for similar qualities/traits as well. These medical school curriculum changes are going to be taking place at many medical schools, including the University of Michigan Medical School.

Dr. Raj Mangrulkar, the Associate Dean for medical student education at the University of Michigan Medical School states, “Flexner did a lot of great things, but we’ve learned a lot and now we’re absolutely ready for a new model.”

The University of Michigan Medical School is implementing many changes to adapt to a newer, more innovative model. They are including classes within their curriculum based solely on improving communication skills, by giving negotiation scenarios to students to compromise and decide upon solutions with their fellow peers.

“Listed with the new prerequisites is a group of Core Competencies. The four competencies are analytical thought and problem-solving skills, written and verbal communication, mathematical/statistical analysis and application of hypothesis-driven methods of research.” Mangrulkar states, “These competencies began as expectations for residents, but have now trickled down to the pre-medical level.”

Along with the University of Michigan Medical School, many other medical schools have already began to look for those qualities in students and incorporate the search into their admissions process. Medical schools are searching for students who can exhibit not only top grades in school and scores on their MCAT, but also for students who exhibit teamwork, compassion, and communication skills within their activities and experiences. A well-rounded student who has the ability to display intelligence and communication skills, among other traits, is ideally the type of applicant that medical schools would like to extend offers to.

Evaluating applicants based on multiple variables and qualities can become difficult for schools, especially when trying to keep information on each applicant in order. ZAP Solutions admissions software, AMP, has the ability to simplify the process for admissions offices, keeping all student information securely placed in one system. ZAP has been continuously innovating AMP to incorporate new ways to evaluate these changes. AMP has also given schools the capability to use standard interviewing, MMI interviewing, or a hybrid combination. Each step of the admissions process is within AMP, making it easier, faster, and more effective for admissions officers to go through the process from the initial/secondary application to screening, interviewing, reviewing, and matriculation with each applicant. The goal of AMP is to customize the software specifically to each school’s process, growing and innovating with the school through their changes.

How do you think medical schools will continue to incorporate the new changes into their admissions process and curriculum?

April 11, 2015

Key Lessons That Need To Be Taught In Med School Classrooms

A recent News Ok article states that Costa Rica is outperforming the United States in terms of health care and wellness.  How can that be when the United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the world?  Simple, Costa Rica is healthier. Their government spends more money than the U.S. on prevention and wellness.

The United States fails to focus on wellness and chronic disease management in many ways. For example, we don’t consistently control glucose levels in diabetics. This disease will then often go untreated until an emergency situation arises, such as a seizure, a stroke, or a heart attack.  In return, these individuals are then placed on medical disability, commonly resulting in a greater expense than the cost of the original health management. Another major chronic disease is coronary heart disease. Two of the most profitable prescriptions drugs in the U.S., are those that reduce blood cholesterol and prevent blood clots - both symptoms of coronary heart disease.  This raises the question, why spend more on prescriptions than on prevention?

UC Riverside School of Medicine (UCR), located in Southern California, first opened its doors in 2013.  Dean of UCR, Dr. G. Richard Olds, says, “This school was founded on the need for well-trained doctors…We also wanted to demonstrate that a health-care system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one that rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill.”  The school places a large emphasis on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting.

Closely related to prevention is wellness.  Many health problems in the U.S. come as a result of self-infliction – smoking, drinking, eating an unhealthy diet, overeating, failure to exercise. An important part of a doctor’s job should be providing the patient with information about healthy eating, exercise, and harmful products; regardless of the behaviors they are currently exhibiting. To accomplish this shift in focus, future doctors must be taught to think with a preventative mentality, right from the beginning.  For that reason, it is vastly important that medical schools in the United States re-evaluate their teaching curriculum and their approach to heath and wellness.

UCR has the right approach in training this country to take a more proactive stance on health and wellness.  This is not a process that will happen overnight  but slowly, this approach could change the face of medical education in the United States on a grand level.

What is your medical school doing to teach students the importance of teaching their future patients about wellness and prevention?

March 26, 2015

A Shortage Of 90,000 Doctors Expected By 2025


Recently there has been a lot of talk about the lack of students enrolling in medical studies. The medical school association fears that if this trend continues, we will see a shortage of 90,000 doctors by the year 2025.

Perhaps the greatest foreseen shortfall will occur in the demand for surgeons.  In particular, surgeons who treat diseases more commonly found in older adults, such as cancer.  ”An increasingly older, sicker population, as well as people living longer with chronic diseases, such as cancer, is the reason for the increased demand,” Darrell G. Kirch, the AAMC’s president and chief executive, told reporters during a telephone news briefing.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has feared a doctor shortage for the past few years, which is why they have been making efforts to support legislation that would funnel more federal money toward its members.  These members include 400 of the nation’s teaching hospitals and 141 medical schools.  The legislation – Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2011 – was proposed for a second time in 2013 and calls for Congress to provide $1 billion a year to support 3,000 more medical residents at hospitals.

Since 1965, Congress has used Medicare and Medicaid to assist in funding the one-year residencies that 28,000 medical school graduates complete each year at the nation’s top teaching hospitals.  On average, it takes about $152,000 to train a resident and the government reimburses hospitals for a portion of that cost through payments in a program called Graduate Medical Education (GME).  In 2012, $5 was spent on GME, which was solely funded by Medicare, according to the Institute of Medicine.  A fact sheet accompanying the estimates says that since 1997, Medicare support for doctors in training has not grown, despite an increase in the number of residents.

Criticized for “wasteful spending” and “lack of accountability”, the AAMC is having difficulty arguing their case to unfreeze GME funds.  Teaching hospitals must report back on how the money is used and could lose it if their residents drop out or don’t pass their boards.  Indirect payments, on the other hand, require no reporting or performance-based standards.

Although it is difficult to know exactly how teaching hospitals are spending the indirect payments, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MPAC), which regularly reviews aspects of Medicare in order to advise Congress, has found that $3.5 billion of these payments are being spent on things unrelated to the training of new doctors. MPAC advises the money be rerouted to a transparent fund that would reward the most productive residency programs and thus put the funds to their best use.

Over the next 10 years, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 36 percent.  In addition, 32 million younger Americans will become newly insured as a result of Obamacare.  The scary part is that the number of doctors to treat those Americans will grow by only 7 percent, according to the AAMC.

Access to care could get worse for some people before it gets better, said Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer, president and co-founder of Primary Care Progress, a nonprofit in Cambridge, Mass. “If you don’t have a primary care provider,” he said, “you should find one soon.”

AMP Paperless Admissions is helping medical training programs across the U.S. maximize their enrollment process; further encouraging students to pursue a career in the medical field.

February 23, 2015

The MCAT Gets a Makeover


In order to be accepted into medical school, students must take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test).  The MCAT has traditionally been comprised of 144 questions which are to be completed in a three hour and twenty minute time frame. Prospective med students spend years preparing themselves for this exam; taking classes, joining study groups, purchasing MCAT study books – the list goes on and on.  But, starting April 2015 there will be a new and improved MCAT which promises to be more difficult and extensive.  The purpose is to better forecast how well the student will perform in medical school.

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) has been conducting research for the past five years in order to constitute these changes.  By surveying faculty, admissions, and deans of medical schools, the AAMC was better able to understand what types of general knowledge and thinking skills are needed by students to succeed in their medical school programs.

Here are some changes that students can expect on the new MCAT:

  • Different scoring scale:  The old MCAT had a total possible score of 45.  On the new MCAT, sections will be scored 118-132, for a total possible score of 528.  The median score is estimated to be around 500.
  • New questions that test a variety of skills: Just like the old MCAT, the new one will test content knowledge and critical thinking, but with the added challenge of two additional skill areas.  The first is Research Design, which focuses on the fundamentals of creating research projects.  The second is Graphical Analysis & Data Interpretation, which focuses on deriving conclusions and drawing inferences from visual data (figures, graphs, tables…).
  • Double the length: Previously, the MCAT was to be completed within a three hour and twenty minute time frame.  The new MCAT now has a maximum time limit of six hours and fifteen minutes – upping the questions from 144 to 230.
  • More prerequisite classes: Three additional semesters’ worth of material will be covered in college-level biochemistry, introductory psychology, and introductory sociology.  This increases the prerequisite class number from eight to eleven.
  • A slight change to the Verbal Reasoning section: Instead of being called Verbal Reasoning, the section will now be titled Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills or CARS.  In addition, the CARS section will no longer include passages on the natural sciences but will instead focus entirely on passages from the humanities and social sciences.

Although the MCAT is never the ultimate decider to get into medical school, it does play a large part in the admission decision. Since the exam is designed to test how students will stand up to the academic rigors of medical school, it is important for all aspiring doctors  to note these monumental changes to the test.

As an added incentive for test takers to not shy away from the new MCAT, the AAMC is offering a $150 Amazon gift card to all students who register for the April 17th or April 18th test dates.

According to Eric Chiu, executive director of pre-medical programs, Kaplan Test Prep, “While the new MCAT is more challenging than the old one, our experience of preparing students for the medical school admissions process for over 40 years tells us that with the right preparation, they will rise to the occasion, and succeed.”

January 22, 2015

Six Questions Grad School Prospects Should Ask Themselves

In a US News article, six questions were presented for graduate school prospects to ask themselves when visiting and interviewing at potential colleges. The questions within the US News article are centered around the initial impression that the prospect had from the admissions office. Many times how one is treated as an applicant can be indicative of how the individual will be treated as a student. Listed below are the six questions that US News challenged grad school applicants to ask themselves.

graduate admissions

1. Did the admissions staff seem to care?

First impressions are everything. Showing potential students that you and your admissions staff care about the applicant and their individual situation is important. AMP, one of the most customized graduate application systems, is one way to help your office stay focused on giving prospective applicants an effective experience.

2. How professional and informed was the staff?

To be a professional and informed staff member, the staff needs to have a good overall understanding of the type of upcoming class and applicant that they want their school to have. An enrollment management system can keep staff informed on the applicant’s background, grades, history, interests, scheduled visits and more within one secure place, so that staff can effectively evaluate applicants for the best possible class.

3. How did the admissions staff behave during the campus visit, event, or fair?

The US News article also continues to ask , ”If you visited the campus, was your visit confirmed with you in advance? If you sent an RSVP, did you get a friendly reminder?” Admissions staff should be knowledgeable about the applicant’s situation during any encounter with the prospective applicant.

 AMP’s system takes care of notifying and informing faculty and applicants of their upcoming meetings and appointments. Instead of worrying if every faculty member or applicant knows when and where to be, the top administrators can focus on the applicant.

4. How long did it take to get someone on the phone or receive E-mail response?

Communication and staying engaged is key with prospective applicants. With many applicants and  faculty members, it’s hard to keep track of all of the communication going on between. AMP can help your staff organize the communications in one place. Keeping track of every communication with each student allows your staff to see which students have been helped and contacted.

5. How was admissions information presented on the website?

Applicants want to find information quickly and easily. Within AMP‘s enrollment management system, every bit of information can be micromanaged to ensure that your applicants are getting everything they need to know. AMP gives your staff the opportunity to edit every page that the applicants see in their portal, all the way down to the specific stage of the application process they’re in. This ensures that the applicant has all the information that they may need, which will help to further streamline and simplify the admissions process for both the admissions staff and the applicant.

6. What was the online application procedure like?

The actual application is a sensitive and important part of the application process. This is where your admissions office has a chance to see behind just the GPAs and academic scores, and to look at applicant’s experiences and thoughts on important matters. Easy access to a student’s information, letters of recommendation, and transcripts help to simplify the process for admissions staff. By keeping all of the application materials in one place, and integrating with third parties, like, AMCAS, CAS, and TMDSAS, the admissions staff can better evaluate applicants.

For the admissions and recruitment office, their goal is to have their school stand out to applicants. With detailed and complicated admissions processes for graduate schools, admissions offices frequently struggle to make enough time in the day to complete everything on their to-do lists. Utilizing an enrollment management system, like AMP, can simplify the admissions process and help admission staff members prepare for the next hectic, but exciting, admission season.

How does your school currently prepare for the admissions season?

November 12, 2014

AACRAO: Predict Performance with Evidence Based Research

aacraoA few of our team members from ZAP Solutions attended the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) SEM Conference this past week in Los Angeles.

AACRAO is a professional organization of personnel working in college and university admissions, academic records, and enrollment services. The AACRAO SEM Conference is an interesting and affluent event that brings together college enrollment management and admissions professionals from institutions throughout the country to collaborate with other individuals to discuss coordinating campus-wide efforts to ensure the success of students, from initial contact until graduation. The AACRAO SEM Conference had workshops and sessions discussing the creation of effective enrollment management plans to lead campus strategic planning efforts and improve student access and success.

One of the sessions that I attended was entitled, “Predicting Performance: using evidence based research and analytics to select best fit applicants.” It was presented by Dr. Jim Lloyd from the University of Florida College of Veterinary School, Coretta Patterson from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Hilda Mejia Abreu, a former employee of Michigan State University. The goal behind the study was to look at the datasets of accepted students to see how their traditional and non-traditional factors correlated with their academic success.

The session was extremely informative, providing research results that they took from admitted students from 2000 to 2006 at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The study used datasets from the admissions office and the student’s curriculum to compare both traditional and non-traditional characteristics. Traditional characteristics included GPA and GRE test scores, while non-traditional characteristics consisted of race/ethnicity, state, gender, age, residency, prior degree, and interview score. Using both traditional and non-traditional characteristics provided the opportunity for a more holistic admissions process in order to see if either type of characteristic was predictive of academic performance as measured by either cumulative clinical and didactic GPA.

In the research study, there were a few different types of studies that were reviewed throughout the session that were used to help evaluate the results. The studies consisted of the Astin I-E-O Model and the 2004 Sedlacek Non-cognitive Variables Model.

To what extent did traditional and non-traditional characteristics contribute to the prediction of the cumulative clinical GPA?

Research from the study showed that there were certain non-traditional and traditional characteristics that were the most predictive of the student’s academic success or cumulative clinical GPA, including the GRE Quantitative (traditional) and the interview score (non-traditional). The Accreditation Service will look at the school’s admissions process and give suggestions on what should be done, not what must be done. This means that their recommendations are solely suggestions, not mandatory requests. It is up to the institution to review their goals and implement the changes. This research study helps show the importance of a holistic admissions process that looks at more than just the applicant’s test scores and traditional characteristics.

Lessons Learned from the Research Study

  • Admissions process selection and goals should be defined and aligned with the mission and goals of institution and profession.

In the field of veterinary medicine, people skills are en extremely important need in veterinarians. Veterinarians must not only connect with animals but the humans that are at the end of the leash. People skills are needed in many fields of work, but it is particularly important in the medicine field due to the usually serious and sensitive nature of a patient’s visit. More often than not, grades and scores are viewed as the only important factor in finding a good doctor and the experience as a whole is often forgotten as a significant necessity.  This is a topic that has been the focus in the past year  when discussing the importance of people skills in doctors. The new MCAT test coming out in April 2015 is addressing this issue by including more questions in the MCAT test related to the student’s people and social science skills.

  • Complete an analysis of admissions variables and curricular performance completion as each semester concludes

Reporting and tracking the progress at the end of each semester will help to continuously update the admissions process as the time sees fit.

  • Regularly export data sets on performance to SPSS or another tool for easy mining for future use

Even if the data is not evaluated at that point, it is critical to keep data for future analysis and reporting.  Data analytics are essential for admissions offices to see what variables and factors are working the best for their institution and incoming class.

  • Establish a scholarly research agenda

Scheduled research studies can help to consistently analyze the data of your institution and applicant pool to confirm if your school’s admissions process is working towards your institution’s mission and goals.

  • Practice holistic admissions

The benefits of holistic admissions has been noted by many institutions more recently over the past five years. Looking at all aspects of the applicant will only help admissions officers to better select the applicants that will work best for their school.

  • Implement both traditional and non-traditional components in review process

As shown in this research study, both traditional and non-traditional components are both useful in predicting academic success. Many schools are taking the initiative to focus on both traditional and non-traditional components when admitting applicants into their programs. This does however lengthen the process and adds time to the already complex process of selecting future students. In efforts to maximize efficiency and create a more dedicated and observant process, many schools are turning to admissions software to organize, track, and assist with the entire enrollment process. Enrollment management software, such as AMP, are saving institutions money and time by holding the entire process in one place. By utilizing a centralized management system, admissions staff are able to easily, seamlessly and securely manage the student lifecycle from prospect to alumni, enabling schools to turn complex data into business intelligence and choose the candidates who are the very best fit for  their program.

 How is your institution selecting your admissions process?

October 7, 2014

Marketing vs. Counseling: The Changing Field of Admissions

In the last couple of decades, and particularly the past few years, colleges have become accessible to more than just the upper-middle-class. What used to be “the ideal college” is no longer tied to one demographic or set of qualities. Students are looking for many different options and features for their future college. With the number of entering college students hovering above 21.8 million and the number of accredited colleges nearing seven thousand, the options are bountiful and so are the students’ preferences.  Admission staffs are now forced to balance the needs of the institutions and the ever increasing and diversifying applicant pool.  Admission staffs are constantly struggling with enrolling students that will “ensure a college’s financial stability”, diversify and enrich the student population, and become substantial additions to the institution. In many cases, these requirements do not always match up, causing drifts between the financial and academic departments and leaving the admissions staff stuck in the middle. A field traditionally known as ‘counseling’ has turned into ‘marketing’.

Admission staffs are now starting to look more like marketing teams and this raises the stress levels on many of the officers who are not used to spending as much time and effort with the prospecting process. Institutions are continuously tightening budgets, which is causing an ever increasing rise of dependency on the recruitment and acceptance of future students. Class sizes from year to year are increasing at a phenomenal rate; the number of enrolled students has increased by six million in the last thirteen years – a 38% increase.  The growth in applications and admission duties has left admissions officers in a stressful and time-scarce cycle facing many challenges.

Looking at a bar chart figure from The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Shaping the Class, admissions officers from different levels of colleges and universities are facing many challenges, including maintaining an enrollment focused culture in the institution.

Enrollment Management


The chart above shows just how far the responsibilities and functions of the  admissions officers have changed and expanded. There are ways to minimize and manage the amount of stress within the admissions office. Using scheduling tools, such as Schedule Today, has decreased the amount of time the admission staff have to spend on menial tasks like scheduling appointments and updating calendars. Medical, Law, and Graduate schools are also using programs, such as AMP Admissions Software, to balance the lengthy and in-depth admissions process. By transferring over duties automatically to simplified software, admission staffs are able to manage more time with students and balance tasks with tight budgets.

Although schools are finding ways to stretch budget dollars with prospecting and the admissions process, the question of how to balance a genuine relationship and encouraging ‘sales’ is still unanswered.  In a recent Chronicle article, Dr. Hawkins, director of public policy and research at NACAC, says, “Even though admissions has been around for a long time, the field still isn’t at a point where it has really defined itself. This profession is being shaped right now, and there’s this question of, Are we counselors or are we marketers? Do we understand the emerging markets that we’re trying to tap into? Ideally, you don’t want to see the entire emphasis be on marketing.”

July 28, 2014

Seeking Comparative University Data

Picture 1

Every year, colleges submit a list of “peer comparison” schools through the Department of Education in order to compare their institutional statistics and rankings with named schools. Back in 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an interactive infographic to illustrate which schools were on each other’s lists. The results of the data analysis showed that many schools are checking out their peers, but also looking towards their higher education role models.

Some conclusions reached by the Chronicle of Higher Education include:

  • The typical college selected a comparison group of 16 colleges with a higher average SAT score and graduation rate than its own, lower acceptance rate, and larger endowment, budget, and enrollment.
  • The eight Ivy League colleges among them chose only 12 institutions outside their own number as peers—not surprisingly, often including the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.
  • 55 colleges outside of the Ivy League selected at least one member of that group for comparison. Some of those colleges, such as Tufts University and New York University, are rich private research institutions.
  • The 107 most intensive research universities, as classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, also tended to choose one another as peers. Among them they selected only 65 institutions outside their number as peers, while 234 other colleges chose one of those intensive-research institutions.

In analyzing the data, it is clear that many of these institutions don’t consider these lists to be true “peer” studies. Receiving this data is an opportunity to peek into the world of their more successful competitors. Heather Ann Kelly, director of the Office of Institutional Research at Delaware, says “If you took a look at your actual peers, the likelihood is that you stand up pretty well with them,” Ms. Kelly says. “In order to make progress, you want to be shedding light on not just your strengths, but also your weaknesses.”

Another way to analyze your own school’s data is to employ a robust data reporting software such as AMP Paperless Admissions. AMP compiles admissions data and can generate customized reports for information such as demographics, admissions rates, GPA, test scores, and more.



July 23, 2014

University of California Logo Redesign Controversy

In 2013, the University of California rolled out a modernized logo developed by an in-house design team. It was a minimalist design, featuring a “C” nested inside a shield-shaped “U” and featuring bright, bold colors.


This lighthearted new logo was meant to be used in marketing and website capacities, while the traditional university crest would remain on official school documentation and letterheads.  “They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California — just more modern, user-friendly,” said Dianne Klein of UC’s Office of the President. “That’s not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal.” Fast Company praised the redesign, saying that the new logo had “surfer charm.”  To quote the school, it is “boldly Californian.” According to the Creative Director, Vanessa Correa, “It’s meant to be scalable, flexible, dynamic, and adaptable; something that would let us talk to our diverse audiences while maintaining recognizability.”

However, the implementation of the new logo did not go as smoothly as the creative team at University of California expected. Backlash and criticism came almost immediately. People started saying that the logo reminded them of a loading icon, a flushing toilet, that it was unprofessional, ugly, childish, trendy, and amateurish. An online petition was started in protest of the new logo, demanding that it be taken down – the petition received more than 54,000 signatures.

The backlash became more extreme as members of the creative team were targeted with insults and threats, a point that was addressed by the creators of the petition, “The vitriol and personal attacks being sent to some of the team that helped to design the new monogram is not okay. They care deeply about the university and are greatly invested in ensuring its success. They don’t deserve anger, threats and insults directed at them.” In an open letter to UC President Udof, Gavin Newsom, a member of the Board of Regents at UC, stated:

“Clearly the new logo for the University, even in its limited use, has backfired… it appears the new logo fails to respect the history and the prestige of University of California En [sic] only a few days, almost 50,000 students, alumni and Californians across the state believe so strongly that the logo fails to represent the institution they are so proud of, they have signed a petition calling for its removal… It bears noting that tuition at the University of California has more than doubled in recent years…Perhaps now is the time to return to the use of the old logo and allow the University community a cooling off period to concentrate on the long-term health of the University.”

In response to the petition and the widespread media attention as a result of the backlash, the University of California has backpedaled and removed the new logo from all web, marketing, and merchandise. In a statement, Jason Simon, the director of UC marketing communications stated;

“UC Community, Over the past week it has become clear that the University of California systemwide monogram recently created is a source for great debate, dialogue, and division. In short, it’s too much of a distraction from our broader effort to communicate UC’s value and vital contributions to Californians, and so we intend to suspend use of the new monogram…  there are a few things that remain clear—the UC community is passionate in its support of the system as a whole, believes any new directions should reflect the tradition, prestige and import of both higher education broadly…We commit to respecting that feedback in determining a path forward as these issues are revisited.”

So, the new logo is gone and the dissenters have won. What can other schools learn from this debacle?

  • First, schools should keep in mind that any sweeping rebranding project will face intense scrutiny from alumni, students, and the design community.
  • Second, logos for higher education shouldn’t aim to be fun, modern, or lighthearted – this doesn’t work well for an institution that also attempts to be timeless, serious, and prestigious.
  • Third, changing a logo in a drastic manner will have drastic consequences. Instead, schools can look to nip & tuck their current logos so that they are adaptable for implementation at a variety of sizes. The biggest mistake that UC made was to seemingly abandon a logo that already had over 100 years of history, emotions, and context behind it.