Stan State adopts shield logo, motto to brand growing recognition

Longtime Stanislaus State professor Dean James Tuedio is pictured after the annual address Wednesday morning on the Turlock campus.
Longtime Stanislaus State professor Dean James Tuedio is pictured after the annual address Wednesday morning on the Turlock campus. jlee@modbee.com

California State University, Stanislaus, President Joseph Sheley used his fourth start-of-school address to launch new tags for the Turlock campus, which has captured national notice over the past year for student support and economic value.

“Our community has to know we’re here, the state has to know who, what and where we are, the CSU must see our incredible strengths, and the branding process is a huge first step toward that becoming a reality,” Sheley told the crowd in Snider Music Recital Hall.

He unveiled the new campus logo, a split red shield emblazoned with a double “S,” and a motto: “Engaging. Empowering. Transforming.”

“When I saw this, I was pleased and proud,” Sheley said. “That is who we are.”

The new emblems came out of nearly a year of discussions and focus groups. They include formal recognition of what the town has always called the campus, Stan State, as its casual naming convention. The nickname is meant to replace a half dozen shortenings of the full CSU moniker, which remains the university’s official name.

Our brand is and always will be the positive impact we have on our students and our region.

Joseph Sheley, president of California State University, Stanislaus

The university’s rising profile as a state and national leader on a number of fronts prompted the decision to give the campus some marketing consistency, Sheley indicated.

“We’re not simply here. We’re here making a difference,” Sheley said, ticking off high ranks on collegiate listings, regional sports awards and extensive student community service. The Princeton Review puts the university among the top 15 percent of colleges nationwide. Money Magazine called it best in the nation for helping unlikely students succeed, and the U.S. Department of Education has lauded it among the top 12 Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

Despite its national notice, he said, “We continue to be the least known and least understood campus publicly.” The stylized logo and direct motto help with recognition, but what the university is known for must go deeper, he said.

“What we want to emerge in the minds of the people we serve when they see our logo, name or motto are the strengths, aspirations and values of an institution – our university. California State University, Stanislaus; Stanislaus State; our beloved Stan State,” Sheley said.

Sheley called Stan State “a local term of endearment,” that he had expected to be put aside in favor of CSU, Stanislaus. “I thought it would be a no-brainer,” he said. “We are not just a CSU that happens to be in the Stanislaus region. We are the Stanislaus region’s university, a partner in its development, the institution that changes the lives of so many who have grown up here.”

Our goal was to create a vehicle that, like the swoosh and the apple, would become instantly recognizable to a new generation of observers and potential partners.

Joseph Sheley, president of California State University, Stanislaus

Simply “Stanislaus,” in the tradition of Stanford or Berkeley, would have been the choice of James Tuedio, dean of the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The history of the college is that Modesto wanted it. When it came to Turlock, the name had to refer to the larger area,” said Tuedio, who has taught at the campus since 1983. “Stanislaus,” he said after Sheley’s speech, “is not just a name, it’s a sense of relevance in this region.”

The university of nearly 9,000 students has come far from its 1960 beginnings at the Stanislaus County Fairground in Turlock, a home it had to leave for several weeks each year for the turkey festival.

When Tuedio arrived on campus, the college nickname then was Turkey Tech, a name Sheley pointedly refused to utter on stage, but “for some of us is an endearing reminder of our past,” he said.

“Turkeys have gotten a bad rap in slang, unfortunately. One doesn’t aspire to be the turkey in the group,” he said. But the nickname had a playfulness missing from later efforts to brand the university, he added.

The community has always called us Stan State. The campus not so much. All the time I’ve been here, it’s been an open question.

James Tuedio, dean of the College of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

In the 1990s, then-President Marvalene Hughes embarked on a landscaping program that faculty roundly derided at the time, Tuedio said. “The land of lake,” he said with a grin. “We can laugh about the lakes, but ultimately we really were proud of the beauty of this place. But that’s about as far as it went.”

In 2007, her successor, President Ham Shirvani, pushed to rename Monte Vista Avenue as University Way. Under pressure from Monte Vista Avenue businesses fighting the change, the Turlock City Council eventually compromised and added University Way as an honorary second name. Today, signs along the stretch of West Monte Vista Avenue fronting the campus have University Way on a second line.

“I think Shirvani wanted to push Stanislaus out into the community. He didn’t really cultivate a reception of it first,” Tuedio said, marking the contrast from those administrations to Sheley’s collaborative style.

“In the 30 years I’ve been here, this is the most influential and decisive effort to move us forward that I’ve seen,” Tuedio said. The branding is part of that, he said. “We’re not bashful. We’re not feeling insecure. It’s kind of announcing our arrival.”