University officials are considering adding a “K” to OCU’s acronym.
Kevin Windholz, vice president for enrollment management, and Leslie Berger, senior director of communications and marketing, are overseeing the change.
Windholz said the switch is not official at this point. Officials will conduct an experiment during the next two years to determine if the change would be practical.
“OKCU would make us unique,” Windholz said. “It defines us as Oklahoma City’s university since the city is referred to as OKC.”
The change would distinguish OCU from competitors with similar acronyms like the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO), Oklahoma Christian University (OC) and Oklahoma Community College (OCCC), Windholz said. He also noted the branding of OKC is powerful for national marketing due to the connection with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Tammy Phillips, cell and molecular biology sophomore, agreed.
“It would make our school’s abbreviation more distinctive,” she said.
Sierra Paul, acting freshman, said changing the acronym would make it easier for people to find information about the university.
OCU’s official website is okcu.edu because of the URL availability at the time of its creation. By changing the university acronym to OKCU, the website and the university would be more consistent.
Jordan Kilgore, acting freshman, said he originally thought OKCU was the school’s official acronym.
“I referred to the school as OKCU until I got here and heard everyone referring to the school as OCU,” he said. “I think branding-wise, it definitely ties us into the city.”
However, Kilgore said he’s unsure if the change will catch on.
“I’m not sure it will get into the verbal vernacular though,” Kilgore said. “Saying the least amount of syllables possible is just something that’s ingrained into Millennial culture. It’d be hard to get a longer term to catch on.”
Officials said the change will not happen overnight.
“The only thing that is being changed at this point in time is any branding that goes out to prospective students—high school juniors and seniors that we are marketing to now. In that recruitment branding, whenever we refer to the university in the form of an acronym, we are calling it ‘OKCU,’” Windholz said.
Windholz said officials will wait two years to see if the rebranding has any effect on the usage of OKCU.
“After we have two classes that come in, if we hear people use ‘OKCU’ more than ‘OCU,’ we are going to talk about changing it more universitywide,” he said.
If the term is not more commonly used, the university will remain OCU.
“It’s basically a two-year experimentation done through prospective student communication only to see if, when those students get here, it begins a common terminology,” Windholz said.
Madelon Wink, acting senior, works in the admissions department and said people confuse OCU with other universities often.
“Admissions has actually been advertising the school as ‘OKCU’ since I started working here freshman year,” she said. “We get a lot of calls for ‘OCU’ when they mean to call OCCC or Oklahoma Christian. I think it provides clarity in the admissions process.”
John Metcalf, acting freshman, said OCU could no longer be referred to as “Over-Committed University” if the acronym is changed.
Maddie Bowes, entertainment business freshman, said she opposes the idea.
“I personally like ‘OCU’ better, but that’s because I’ve been calling it that since I was a sophomore in high school, so it means something to me,” Bowes said.
Adam Laporte, music theater freshman, said alumni connections would be a major concern if the change is made.
“I think it’d be easier to find alumni and common connections if the abbreviation didn’t change,” he said. “Also, I don’t want all my OCU gear to suddenly be outdated.”
Windholz said officials recognize that many people are concerned about alumni traditions and their connection to the university and that the OCU branding is an important component of athletics.
“Because there’s so much that’s involved with it, and because it’s such a culture change, we’re not just going to go in overnight and do it,” Windholz said. “It’s just experimentation.”
Angela Clifton, biomedical graduate and former soccer player, said some athletes are upset because OCU teams have a huge presence in the competitive world, especially in the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics.
“OCU is known in the NAIA and in our respective conferences because of the intensity and competitive nature we’ve shown with the name,” Clifton said. “It’s a name that out of state teams know and associate with our competitive reputation. OCU has weight behind it.”