Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Recently the marketing firm of Spanier, Erikson, Mahon, and Courtney, also known by the more catchy name Penn State, decided to change the name of Penn State McKeesport to Penn State Allegheny. The reason for doing this is likely that Penn State doesn't want to have its name associated with a depressed town in the rust belt. Fair enough. However, the folks at Allegheny College aren't too happy about this.
Richard J. Cook, president of Allegheny College, said yesterday he sees potential for confusion with his private institution in Meadville, Crawford County. He said Allegheny has asked Penn State officials including President Graham Spanier to reconsider, without success.
Dr. Cook's concern is that the Penn State campus will become known colloquially as simple the Allegheny campus or Allegheny and thus be confused in the publics mind with Allegheny College. Spanier was none too sympathetic with this concern.

Asked to comment, Dr. Spanier yesterday released text of a letter he sent to Dr. Cook assuring him there is no intent to cause confusion.

He said the public university branch and Allegheny College are vastly different, as are the profiles of their students. Those who apply to any Penn State location must go through the Penn State Web site, he said.

"We will never use 'Allegheny College' in any of our documents that make reference to our campus," Dr. Spanier wrote. "Moreover, we have no intention of ever using the title 'Allegheny' without 'Penn State.' "

Now the Post-Gazette, which published this story, notes that Allegheny College has gone to court in the past to protect its brand name. The paper fails to note that Penn State has also gone to court to protect its brand name.

Penn State is seeking compensation from University Orthopedics Ltd. for alleged damages and losses incurred due to the company's use of the word "university" in its name.

Penn State claims that because of the company's name, University Orthopedics, 101 Regent Court, misleads the public into believing the company is part of the various health services the school offers, according to court documents. The school is requesting that the company not use "university in any manner in connection with the rendering of orthopedic and related medical services."

It happens that Penn State lost this suit.

The point of this observation is that Penn State does not act on principle in these matters, rather it acts out of self-interest. Just as it claims to be a private institution when that is to its advantage and claims to a public one on those days when that works for it.

No comments: