The First Word

Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons meets with graduates at commencement in May.

by L. Jay Lemons, President

ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1858, a parade marched through Selinsgrove to a wheat field on the edge of town where a foundation had been constructed. There, amid much ceremony and celebration, a cornerstone was laid, ushering in the birth of the institution that would become Susquehanna University.

Today, in the year of our sesquicentennial celebration, we look forward to beginning the next 150 years in the life of this great institution. We do so with enhanced academic programs and a revamped central curriculum that will broaden and deepen our students’ cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, and help them prepare for lives of achievement, leadership and service.

Two years ago, the university, working with its board of trustees, designed a plan to improve Susquehanna’s name recognition and reputation. The anecdotal evidence suggested that we were not telling our story in a way that was compelling enough. We knew that the caliber of students who attended our institution was top-notch, and it was continuing to improve. We knew that the attention our students received from our talented faculty and the high percentage of students who graduated from Susquehanna in four years ready to either join the workplace or continue their education were second to none. Yet even close to home, our story was not being heard as well as it should have been.

To address these concerns, Susquehanna partnered with the Midwest research firm Stamats to better understand the perceptions of Susquehanna among a variety of constituencies, including prospective students, current students and alumni. The research validated some of the things we thought about ourselves and revealed a set of attributes that defines a Susquehanna education. Three overarching themes emerged: excellent academics, total collegiate experience and successful outcomes. Underlying these themes was the sense that Susquehanna is a friendly, collaborative and inclusive community led by passionate faculty mentors. In other words, Susquehanna was perceived as a place where students get a face-to-face education marked by opportunities for growth outside the classroom, both on and off campus, which leads them to career and graduate school success.

To convey these distinctions, Susquehanna embarked on development of a new integrated communications plan and visual identity campaign to better distinguish us among national liberal arts colleges. One of Stamats’ suggestions was that since our name is distinctive, we might consider ways of embracing its unique visual and alliterative qualities. The results are evident in this publication, redesigned to reflect a new visual identity and a commitment to expanded storytelling that highlights the university’s distinctions.

With the new look you see in the magazine, we sought not only a treatment pleasing to the eye, but one that also underscores our connection to our namesake, the Susquehanna River, which loosely translated means “the river of long reach.” The new design includes a new rendering of our name and a new name for the magazine. Developed by Susquehanna’s graphic design partner, Studio-e of Concord, Mass., the word “Susquehanna” has a distinct “Q,” representing a water current. In addition, the magazine makes use of an expanded color palette and new typefaces that modernize the university’s visual identity. The title of the magazine, Susquehanna Currents, both evokes the beautiful river and our hope that this new publication will keep our loyal alumni and friends apprised of our dynamic and beloved institution.

Today, more than 2,000 students from 30 states and 12 countries call Susquehanna home. Within the next few years, our goal is to continue to achieve modest growth. During that time, we will implement our new central curriculum and build a new state-of-the-art science center, designed to meet or exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification criteria. You’ll read all about these and other great initiatives in this and future issues of the magazine, which includes expanded feature articles and sections highlighting academics and Susquehanna people. So it is, without further ado, that I proudly present you with the new Susquehanna Currents magazine.


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