The exercise will also include a revamped Web site, a standardized logo, and a new slogan: “Ask what you can do.”
In an e-mail to students, faculty and alumni announcing the change on Friday, Dean David T. Ellwood ’75 wrote that the lack of a consistent shorthand means that students, academics, and the media give the school a multiplicity of confusing nicknames.
He added that many sources had advised coming up with a definitive shorthand name.
The school’s associate dean for communication and public affairs, Melodie L. Jackson, said her department conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with faculty, students, alumni, and prospective employers last year.
“One of our key findings was that we were not leveraging our affiliation with Harvard as effectively as we could be,” she said, adding that the school shares the Kennedy name with more than 900,000 other institutions around the world.
Jackson said the rebranding is a response to poor name recognition of the school beyond Harvard.
“There’s a lot of confusion out there as to who we even are,” she said.
Stephen C. Chan, a second-year joint degree student at the Kennedy School and the Business School said, “I think it’s strange that the school is focusing on something superficial.”
Chan also expressed surprise at the removal of the term “government” from the school’s new name as it falls in line with Harvard’s other professional schools.
“But I can understand why they think this is necessary,” he added.
Executive Dean John A. Haigh said that the emphasis on Kennedy’s name—as well as the famous speech recalled in the slogan—was a reminder of the school’s commitment to public service.
“We are very proud of our heritage, of our linkage to the Kennedy name,” Haigh said. “And we also want to maintain the connection to the Harvard name so people will know who we are, where we are, and what we do.”
Jackson said that the official name of the school will remain the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Since the changes will mostly affect the Web site rather than buildings or plaques, they will not come at particularly high costs, she added.