Other Views: Shield UND's logo selection from budget cuts

GRAND FORKS -- For an individual, a household or a multimillion-dollar organization, putting a budget together is all about setting priorities. So is cutting a budget.And for the University of North Dakota, a high priority for the rest of 2016 ha...

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GRAND FORKS - For an individual, a household or a multimillion-dollar organization, putting a budget together is all about setting priorities. 
So is cutting a budget.
And for the University of North Dakota, a high priority for the rest of 2016 has to be choosing a Fighting Hawks logo and getting it into campuswide use. That’s why the logo-selection effort should not fall to the budget ax: UND needs to get the logo job done.
And the sooner the university unveils a striking and high-quality design, the better.
A different opinion was voiced at a University Senate meeting last week, probably for understandable reasons. After all, for employees of an institution that’s facing $10 million to $20 million in budget cuts, it’s human to look first for projects that seem to be on the periphery.
As a UND faculty member put it at the meeting, the logo “cannot be a priority for the university at this time.
“It is not respectful of the financial decisions we must make, nor at this moment does it further the needs of our students, staff and faculty.”
But here’s the thing: This year of all years, UND’s new logo is central - not marginal - to the university. Choosing it will help the university as a whole.
And that, in turn, would help students, staff and faculty - by stamping “Closed” on one of UND’s most divisive controversies and letting the newly liberated university get back to work.
Here are a few more reasons why UND should let the logo selection unfold:
For one thing, only a modest amount of money is at stake. Here’s the situation, as Grand Forks Herald staff writer Sam Easter reported last week: “A committee recommended New York-based design firm SME Inc. to create a logo and brand identity to accompany the Fighting Hawks athletic nickname. ... If (Interim President Ed) Schafer approves the committee’s recommendation, the endeavor is estimated to cost at least $49,500.”
Saving such a sum would not make much of a difference, given the multimillion-dollar cuts needed at UND.
Of course, every little bit helps, and UND will be sending real dollars - not Monopoly money - to SME. But by spending that modest amount now, UND will leverage much more in value. It’ll do so by helping to end the nickname and logo controversy - a priceless benefit in itself - and by giving UND a new design to slap on sweatshirts and jerseys, and sell.
Those sales will bring real dollars into the university. UND typically earns more than $200,000 a year in royalties from its marks and logos.
And once the Fighting Hawks logo is unveiled and starts to show up on team uniforms, stadium displays and fan wear, that sum can be expected to grow.
(Speaking of exciting and high-potential logos, here’s a side note for any SME Inc. design professionals who happen to be reading this editorial: Google “Curtiss P-40 Warhawk”- the third most-produced American fighter aircraft of World War II - and try not to get excited about the prospect of featuring that aircraft in UND’s Fighting Hawks logo. Just try.)
Budget cuts are a sobering event for any institution - including the Herald, which has endured its share of cutbacks over the newspaper’s 137-year history. But through good times as well as bad, the mantra for the organization has to be, “Operations must continue.”
The show, in other words, must go on.
And at UND today, that means the business of choosing and using a new logo must proceed, for the university’s greater good. Here’s hoping Interim President Schafer agrees.
The Grand Forks Herald’s Editorial Board formed this opinion.

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