Pehrsson: PennWest Name ‘Really Stood Out’ During Market Testing

| October 15, 2021

CLARION, PA. – California, Clarion and Edinboro universities are poised to become one institution – and that new integrated university now has a name and a nickname.

Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson announced on Thursday that the new university will be known as Pennsylvania Western University, or PennWest for short, when it’s officially launched in July 2022.

The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved the name at its quarterly meeting Thursday.

See a video announcing the new university name.

The video announcement to students, faculty and staff at all three campuses came with an invitation for students at Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro to select a design for the new name.

“From the start, we have been intentional about building a student-focused university through the integration process,” said Pehrsson, who serves as president of Clarion and interim president at California and Edinboro.

“This is one demonstration of what that truly means. Our students are being given three design options, and they will choose the one we’ll be using when the PennWest name appears on everything from T-shirts to billboards.”

Cal U, Clarion and Edinboro are pursuing accreditation for the new institution from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and they will abide by guidelines for marketing the integrated institution pending the commission’s approval.

One ‘really stood out’

The PennWest name itself, Pehrsson said, was selected through a process that included workshops and focus groups with students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and community members.

Research was conducted to be sure the name would perform well online, where most students begin their college search, and in the marketplace.

“We need a name that will be clear, distinctive and easy to remember, especially for prospective students and their families,” Pehrsson said. “We market-tested several options, and PennWest was the name that really stood out.”

Graphic designers at California, Clarion and Edinboro worked collaboratively to come up with design options for the new university name. All three designs presented to students use dark navy blue, red and gold – a palette derived from the campuses’ school colors.

In an online survey, students also will see the PennWest nickname and how PennWest University pairs with the location name for each campus.

Signboards at each campus’s student center will illustrate how the three design options would look on a shirt, a cap and a pennant.

“Our students will vote, and we will use the design they select,” Pehrsson said. “They are the future of Pennsylvania Western University, and we want them to wear our name proudly.”

University officials expect to announce the winning design before the winter break.

Although the university’s name will change when integration takes effect next year, each campus also will retain its current location name, athletics branding and mascots.


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