By Michael Seymour, ATCC President
What’s in a name? An institution’s name reflects its identity, reputation, history – in combination, its brand. The college’s name has evolved from its origin as part of the local school district. Vernon Maack founded Alexandria Area Vocational Technical School in 1961. In 1973, the college tweaked its name to Alexandria Area Vocational Technical Institute. As the college separated from secondary education and expanded its mission, the names continued to change – Alexandria Vocational Technical Institute (1985), Alexandria Technical Institute (1988), Alexandria Technical College (1990), to the current legal name of Alexandria Technical and Community College (2010). At no time did the college “rebrand,” but with each naming iteration, the logo (and sometimes the name) changed. To formally/legally change the name of the college, we need to make a proposal to the chancellor of Minnesota State and ultimately needs to be approved by the Minnesota State Board of Trustees.
As a result of this history, the college is referred to in a variety of ways. In the Alexandria area, “The Vo-Tech,” “The Tech” or “Alex Tech” are the most common ways of referencing the college. The acronym “ATCC” is officially used, but is often confused with “ATC” – Anoka Technical College. Why is this problematic? For a variety of reasons – name confusion, clarity, a complex logo, and frankly, Alexandria Technical and Community College is a mouthful. Recently, we began a process to address the name and logo concerns as part of a 10-year marketing cycle. The process included the development of a mascot for the college’s new athletic programs.
The five-step process included: 1) collecting market research, 2) conducting student, staff, faculty, and community interviews, 3) identifying and developing key themes, 4) sharing and reviewing name, logo, color and mascot concepts, and 5) gathering stakeholder, student, staff and community feedback.
In the discovery process, the key themes identified were: dynamic, connected, diverse, straightforward, maverick, curious, bold, and value. Our new logo(s) need to reflect these themes. It is intended that these themes speak to ATCC’s identity as viewed by our students, staff, faculty, and community.
The completed naming and logo process (anticipated January 2021) will allow us to refresh our marketing materials and messages in pursuit of fall 2021 enrollments.
Some may remember a time when ATCC used “The Norsemen” as its official mascot. The mascot and athletics were discontinued in 1994 due to budget challenges. Our current students expressed their interest and support for the return of athletics and a mascot to create unity and spirit amongst the student body. It is a tricky time to navigate the appropriateness of any given mascot.
Inspired by the local history and lore of Alexandria, including the Runestone and Big Ole, the Alexandria Technical and Community College “Legends” name delivers on the college's rich history within the community.
The name positions the college as both a legend itself by offering unparalleled educational opportunities, and a legend-maker by preparing its students to become leaders, movers, and shakers in their chosen industries.
Selecting a broader name like Legends also allows for the viewer to interpret the meaning for themselves. For some, they'll connect it to local Norse or Viking mythology, others will ascribe aspects from their own cultures' legend and lore. For me, the name acknowledges the legendary people (campus leaders) who invested themselves in the life-changing stories of Alexandria Technical and Community College.
We will be sharing the new college logo and mascot soon. Stay tuned!
Michael Seymour is the president of the Alexandria Technical and Community College. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.