by Stuart Vincent
You could see it in the angles and colors of the dazzling New Academic Building. You could feel it radiating from the faces of students featured on new brochures and posters that dared potential students to “find your edge” at Hofstra. You could experience it walking into ivy-covered buildings with newly renovated classrooms featuring new computers and wireless access.
It was a year for rebranding, rebuilding and reinvesting.
Exciting changes were taking place all across the campus, the tangible result of five years of planning and effort by President Stuart Rabinowitz and senior administrators and trustees, planning that had begun to bear fruit in both the physical appearance of the campus and the makeup of Hofstra’s student body.
Among the highlights:
- The opening of the New Academic Building with its state-ofthe- art black box theater and music rehearsal rooms.
- The launching of a $100 million capital campaign that has resulted in some 17 gifts of $1 million or more.
- The debut of a new branding campaign featuring Hofstra students, vibrant new colors and graphics, and the “find your edge” slogan.
- The transformation of the first floor of the Axinn Library into a more welcoming, comfortable space with brighter lighting, new furniture, increased wireless access and a coffee bar.
- The lifting of the frame of what will become the third pedestrian bridge spanning Hempstead Turnpike.
These changes and others were part of a five-year plan put into place by President Stuart Rabinowitz when he assumed the presidency in 2001, and modified and changed over time. By the fifth anniversary of his inauguration, measurable changes had taken place in the look of the campus, Hofstra’s financial status, and the makeup of the student body.
Making full use of new technologies was one of the goals of that plan, including increased wireless access on campus, refurbishing older classrooms, a new internal closed-circuit TV system that carries University news throughout the campus, and the remodeled main floor of the Axinn Library.
So, too, were efforts that saw the University’s endowment double to $200 million over that five-year period. A $100 million capital campaign launched in 2006 was well on its way to achieving its goal by year’s end, with more than $80 million pledged.
For the second time in two years, almost half of the first-year students in 2006 came from out of New York state. Even more impressive was the fact that the average SAT score of the firstyear students on campus last year was 1169, up from 1103 in the fall of 2000.
For the 2005-2006 academic year, the University added new graduate degree programs in education, business, journalism and physician assistant studies, along with a new bachelor’s degree program in forensic science, a growing field made popular by the so-called “CSI” effect.
Summing up all these transformations, mirroring this sense of excitement, of moving forward and embracing new technologies and ideas, was Hofstra’s new branding campaign. Its bold colors, sense of motion and aggressive “find your edge” slogan are meant to reflect today’s Hofstra students. The idea was not for the new branding campaign to change the University’s identity, but rather to catch up to it and to promote it to potential students.
All of these changes did not go unnoticed. For the first time in 2006, Hofstra was listed in the Fiske Guide, a college handbook listing more than 300 of the country’s “best and most interesting” colleges across the United States.
Hofstra unveiled a new brand last year marked by “a bold and colorful new look, and graphic standards to capture the confident, new spirit of Hofstra’s results-oriented, pragmatic and ambitious student body,” according to the firm that created the new branding campaign.
Media Logic, an Albany-based strategic marketing and communications firm specializing in brand development, revenue generation, marketing planning and integrated communications, came up with the new look after months of planning with University officials and numerous focus groups composed of Hofstra faculty, staff, alumni, administration, and current and potential students that presented participants with different visuals, slogans and perceptions of Hofstra.
“In the past we used a classic university look, and we felt it was time to communicate the true spirit of our students,” said Melissa Connolly, Hofstra’s vice president for university relations. “We wanted our new brand to reflect the types of people that make up the Hofstra community, and we are very excited that Media Logic and their creative branding process were able to deliver a new brand that achieved these objectives.”
The branding reflects today’s Hofstra students – active, enthusiastic, social and outgoing – and those students became an integral part of the new campaign. To recruit students to be the “Faces of Hofstra,” University Relations set up tables in the Student Center for two days and invited students to learn about the new campaign and to become the student faces on the University’s new marketing and adverting efforts. More than 150 students signed up, and Hofstra brochures, posters and ads now reflect the student population in all its diversity.
The new brand can also be seen on the Hofstra Web site, redesigned in 2006 to update and improve the site and make it easier to navigate. New features include a home page with top headlines from the University, a rotating banner featuring upcoming events, and access to videos and photo galleries of Hofstra events as well as moments in Hofstra history.
And the new branding is evident in the new closed-circuit TV system introduced at Hofstra in 2006. This series of flat-panel monitors located in high-traffic areas and academic and administrative buildings throughout the campus keeps the Hofstra community up-to-date on the latest news and events. In addition to information broadcast University-wide, some of the schools have the ability to upload information of particular interest to their students and faculty, and to broadcast that information only on monitors located in their buildings.
Music, light and speeches marked the opening of Hofstra University’s newest academic building on October 18, which was fitting since the building is dedicated to drama, music and communication. The 86,000-square-feet structure, marked by sharp angles, glass and bold colors, features a 230-seat black box theater designed for dramatic productions that includes a technical balcony, stage and dressing rooms. Hofstra University’s Department of Drama and Dance inaugurated the new theater in December with a production of Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, directed by Peter Sander.
The architecturally distinctive building also contains an acoustically isolated band rehearsal hall that seats 120, two breakout rehearsal rooms, an extensive music library and storage facilities.
The New Academic Building, or NAB, contains additional office space and meeting rooms for music, speech, journalism, history and other faculty. While it contains no classrooms, the building has small conference rooms that are used by graduate and undergraduate classes.
Another distinctive new structure on campus began to take shape on November 29 when cranes lifted the steel frame of the newest pedestrian bridge across Hempstead Turnpike. The bridge, Hofstra’s third, will allow students to cross safety between the north and south campuses at Oak Street.
A new “building within a building” opened in January when Commerce Bank opening its first satellite branch on a college campus on the main level of the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center. The 1,000-square-foot, full-service bank is open seven days a week and is conveniently located.
And in September, ground was broken for what will be a new 225-bed residence for graduate and law students. The residence hall is scheduled to be completed in 2008.
Renovation was a key part of Hofstra’s plans to offer students the most up-to-date technologies. Brower Hall, one of the college’s original classroom buildings, received a complete overhaul that included new heating and air conditioning, new wiring to allow for access to the Internet, and new classroom computers and furniture.
The first floor of the Axinn Library underwent a stunning makeover that transformed it into a brightly lit, modern space with new furniture, more wireless Internet access and new display cases. The plan was to create a resource that encouraged students to congregate and make use of the resources offered. Comfortable new seating and Kobrick’s, a new coffee bar featuring gourmet coffee, cappuccino, latte, cold beverages, snacks, fresh baked muffins and pastries, helped transform the first floor into a new meeting and gathering space for the Hofstra community. And by year’s end, the University Club in David S. Mack Hall was closed for a major reconstruction that will update and improve the club’s meeting and dining facilities in time for the fall 2007 semester.
With the May 2006 launch of a $100 million capital campaign, only the second campaign in Hofstra’s history, the University announced its intention to increase the University’s endowment and enhance Hofstra’s reputation as a national center of academic excellence.
“These funds will help us enhance our already strong academic infrastructure, increase scholarships and attract nationally known scholars to the Hofstra campus,” said President Rabinowitz. “This will be Hofstra’s first capital campaign in almost 20 years and is a critical initiative for our advancement.”
Larger endowments allow universities to be less dependent on tuition and better able to withstand economic fluctuations. A larger endowment allows for more student scholarships, enhanced financial aid, faculty development, distinguished chairs, and professorships.
President Rabinowitz said that a larger endowment is necessary if Hofstra is to compete with universities such as Boston University, George Washington University and Northeastern University, all of which have much larger endowments.
The formal announcement of the campaign was made on May 4 by Capital Campaign Chair and Chair of the Board of Trustees John D. Miller ’79 at the University’s 10th annual Gala at the Hofstra Arena before more than 800 business, government and community leaders. The name of the arena was formally changed last year to the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex in recognition of the generosity and dedication of Hofstra alumnus and trustee David S. Mack ’67.
Among the largest gifts received as part of the campaign are: CV Starr Foundation, $10 million; John D. Miller (chair, Hofstra Board of Trustees), $6 million; Scott Skodnek,* $5.7 million; Niki and Joe Gregory (vice chair, Hofstra Board of Trustees), $5 million; Sondra and David S. Mack (Hofstra trustee), $5 million; Peter S. Kalikow (Hofstra trustee), $3.5 million; Alan Bernon (Hofstra trustee), $2.5 million; Horace* and Amy Hagedorn (Hofstra trustee), $2 million; Anonymous Gift, $1.8 million; Bob and Florence Kaufman (Hofstra trustee emeritas), $1.5 million; Estate of Charlotte Erva Gardner, $1.4 million; Helene Fortunoff (Hofstra trustee), $1 million; Leo Guthart (Hofstra trustee), $1 million; Marilyn Monter (secretary, Hofstra Board of Trustees) and Wilfried Witthuhn, $1 million; Libby and Joseph G. Shapiro, $1 million; Perry Weitz, $1 million; Patricia and Frank G. Zarb (Hofstra trustee), $1 million.