Despite Marketing Advice, GSD Shies from Harvard Name
After lengthy identity debate, GSD reverts back to old name
Unofficially, however, since 2000 the GSD has also been known as the Harvard Design School, after then-dean Peter G. Rowe hired a public relations firm to consult on the school’s name.
“Some people thought this was a good idea in a variety of ways,” Dean Alan Altshuler said. “The School began being labeled ‘Harvard Design School.’”
Following the consultation, the school redesigned its logo to bear the University’s name on pieces of its public paraphernalia. “The stationery was redesigned and reprinted with the name Harvard Design School. There is a big cloth poster put outside the building that says Harvard Design School. The principle website says Harvard Design School.” Altshuler said.
Some think that the school’s revamp was unnecessary and reeked of corporatism. “I didn’t like the ‘identity campaign,’ which seemed very corporate and like every other ‘identity campaign,’” Professor of Urban Design and Planning Theory Margaret Crawford wrote in an e-mail.
“In particular I disliked the logo, which took me a long time to understand. The entire episode is very mysterious plus a huge waste of money,” she said.
Despite outward changes, the school’s courses continued to be listed as GSD courses with the subject’s course number.
“When I became Dean I became conscious of the fact that we were functioning under two names,” Althsuler said.
This caused a mild degree of confusion among both faculty and non-faculty alike.
“People would periodically ask me, ‘what is the name of the school?,’” Altshuler said.
Crawford was similarly stupefied. “When I came to the school in 2000, nobody told me the name was changed,” Crawford wrote. “When the new stationery was introduced I was very puzzled.”
Students, however, were not even aware of the name debate, much less confused by it.
“As far back as I can remember, the school has been called the Graduate School of Design,” said Chris White, the student body president of the GSD.
To remedy the situation, Altshuler brought up the nomenclature divide at a faculty meeting in April.
At the faculty meeting Altshuler said he suggested the creation of a faculty committee to deal with the school’s identity crisis. The faculty, however, wanted to bypass the extra bureaucratic step.
“The faculty said, ‘lets just take a vote,” Altshuler said.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of reverting the name back to the GSD. Altshuler was quick to point out that the school’s identity issues are under control.
“We are not shredding stationery,” Altshuler said. “There is no emergency here. People who like the stationery are free to use it up, then we will move gradually to revise any of our documents.”
Not everyone took to the stationery to begin with.
“I’ve heard there are caches of old stationery lying around somewhere, which I plan to find and use,” Crawford wrote.
—Staff Writer Sarah E.F. Milov can be reached at email@example.com