January 09, 2004

SIUC unveils new license plate; sign up at the game

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale Chancellor Walter V. Wendler today (Jan. 9) took the wraps off an SIU license plate design that has been in the works for months. He says the plate will build goodwill for the University, help clarify the institution's identity and raise money for undergraduate scholarships.

"I'm very proud to announce this. We know there is interest in a plate for our institution and the design is distinctively Southern," Wendler said. "Now we are looking for 850 people who will sign a petition indicating they are likely to purchase the plate."

SIU's plate design features the school colors, maroon and white; the words, "Go SIU Salukis," and an outline of Pulliam Hall's clock tower.

The project, under the direction of the University's new Media & Communication Resources office, strategically uses two key identifiers in the design, says Sue Davis, MCR's executive director. "Anyone who knows SIU knows we are the Salukis and Pulliam Hall is a stately icon that is unique. Our graphics supervisor, Jay Bruce, did an excellent job in creating a plate that will appeal to our constituents."

SIU Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk says athletics is tremendously excited about the new license plate. "We've received overwhelming support for our athletics teams and we encourage our students, faculty, staff and alumni to rally behind the new plate and sign the petition. We'll have it available at all home basketball games until we gather enough names."

Ed Buerger, executive director of the SIU Alumni Association, said, "I'm sure I speak for many alumni by saying how pleased I am that the University is going to provide an SIU plate. Many alumni have contacted us in past years wanting to buy a plate. This is a small but important step in encouraging pride in the institution."

Illinois started its collegiate license plate program several years ago, and there are 14 institutions that already take part. SIU Edwardsville will also enter the program this year.

Collegiate plates cost $132 initially and $105 for subsequent years. Standard Illinois plates cost $78. Colleges collect $25 for each plate that is sold; SIUC would use the money to fund additional undergraduate scholarships provided through the SIU Alumni Association.

Last semester, Media & Communication Resources worked with students in the psychology department to gather baseline data on image and identity from students, alumni, donors, high school counselors and the general public.

"We were pleasantly surprised to find that image wasn't an issue," Davis said. "For years I have heard anecdotal remarks about our 'poor' image. The numbers show that individuals in these groups agree that we have a good image and a strong academic reputation. Our publics know we have a wide range of academic programs and that we pay attention to individual students."

They also favor simplicity when it comes to the institution's name.

"Most (51 percent) instinctively call us SIU and Southern Illinois University," Davis said. "Some 20 percent prefer 'Southern', with nearly 15 percent preferring 'Southern Illinois' and 11 percent choosing to call us SIUC."

The survey included 18 questions and had a confidence interval of 95 percent. A total of 468 people participated in the survey, conducted by the Applied Research Consultants in the psychology department. Peggy Stockdale serves as director of the center. Project leaders were Laura A. Rowald and Hayley L. Dawson, with Sofia Pinero as project associate.