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Herd News in Brief

June 06, 2009 @ 10:20 PM

MU doctoral student wins award for research

HUNTINGTON -- Award-winning research by a Marshall University doctoral student shows that from 1996 to 2005, West Virginia had the largest percentage of "college-to-university" rebrandings of any state or U.S. territory.

"Survival of the Fittest? The Rebranding of Higher Education in West Virginia" explores the name-change phenomenon in the Mountain State. The findings by Dr. James M. Owston, a 2007 graduate of Marshall University's Leadership Studies program, have garnered both national and international praise.

"A recurring reason for the name-change phenomenon was to gain notoriety and prestige and to increase the number of students in attendance as well as to raise money more easily," said Owston. "What I discovered is that although some schools did have terrific growth after changing their brands, most did not. In most cases, enrollment slowed and, while the schools still experienced a yearly growth in enrollment, the rate of growth that they experienced was certainly not as great as they had before the name change.

"By and far, changing names was not the panacea the institutions thought it was going to be," said Owston, who is Senior Academic Officer for Instructional Technology for Mountain State University in Beckley, W.Va. MSU was formerly The College of West Virginia. It underwent a name change in 2001.

His adviser at Marshall, Dr. Barbara Nicholson, nominated Owston's work for the 2009 Alice L. Beeman Dissertation Award for Outstanding Research in Communications and Marketing for Educational Advancement from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education as well as the 2008 Leo and Margaret Goodman-Malamuth Outstanding Dissertation Award for Research in Higher Education Administration from the American Association of University Administrators. "Survival of the Fittest" came away with top honors both times.

For more information or to read the dissertation in its entirety, go to

The Marshall University Leadership Studies program is offered on the South Charleston campus.

Kopp chooses 10 for A.D. search committee

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp announced that he has chosen 10 men and women to serve on the search committee that will select the university's next athletic director.

The search committee will be chaired by John Hess, who is a member of the MU Board of Governors. The other committee members include: A. Michael Perry, Marshall University Board of Governors; Robert Bookwalter, Ph.D., faculty athletic representative; Camilla Brammer, Ph.D., faculty senate representative; Shari Clarke, vice president for Multicultural Affairs; Robert Plymale, executive director, Rahall Transportation Institute; Larry Tweel, MU Foundation representative; Sean Hornbuckle, Student Government Association president; Mark George, Big Green Foundation representative; Steve Ellis, Charleston Quarterback Club representative.

An interim athletic director will be announced in the near future.

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