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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Putting the ‘U’ in Nashua: Change to Rivier University brings new signs, apparel, programs

NASHUA – Bright, blue signs sticking out above the roadway on the southern end of Main Street direct students and passersby to Rivier College and its buildings.

All of those will have to change come Sunday, when the Nashua private school officially changes its name to Rivier University.

“There is a lot of excitement and sense of pride,” said Sister Paula Buley, president of Rivier. “There’s an appreciate for the reality that Rivier is building from a very strong foundation and moving forward.”

There are no events planned to celebrate the status change, but Buley said there will be an official launch and celebration when students and faculty return in the fall. Rivier University enrolls 2,300 students in Nashua and online.

Instead, the month’s immediate future holds many changes, visible and behind the scenes.

The large Rivier College sign in front of the school – visible from the rotary connecting Main Street to Daniel Webster Highway – will be replaced over the course of the summer, Buley said. Other Main Street signs bearing the old name will be renewed based on the campus master facility plan, she said, which is not up for review until December.

Rivier also has a billboard advertisement visible by southbound Exit 6 on the F.E. Everett Turnpike, and Buley plans to have it updated as soon as possible in July.

Some of the changes will create additional costs, but much of the university’s expenses to buy materials with the new logo were already part of the operating budget, Buley said.

“We’ve used up, if you will, in many cases our paper stock, letterhead and business cards,” she said. “The departments have really spent down their stocks and are ready to order new materials. Since we’ve anticipated and planned for this change of status, we’ve really incorporated those expenses into our operating budget.”

New brochures, guidebooks and magazines for incoming students are ordered annually, and athletic uniforms will require no change because they only bear the name Rivier – “We’re fortunate” there, Buley said.

The school bookstore will hold onto much of its Rivier College material so alumni can still purchase it if they wish. New Rivier University apparel also will be available for purchase, she said.

Plymouth State University went through a similar process in 2003, when it changed its name from Plymouth State College.

Tim Kershner, the university’s chief of public relations, said he couldn’t estimate the cost to Plymouth of changing out all items bearing its old name, but the process can be long and difficult. Even when you think you’ve been thorough, he said, other items can surface with “College” where “University” should be.

“There are lots of places you find your old name and you have to update it,” he said. “Until you do this, you never really realize how many places your name is printed. Pens and pencils in the bookstore, application forms for students, forms throughout the campus.

“There’s a lot.”

Changing the school’s presence on the web to reflect Rivier University also comes at low expense, Buley said, and that will be completed as soon as possible. The school website, www.rivier.edu, will remain the same.

Any materials left over that can be purposefully reused – like stationery or pens – will be donated to community groups in Greater Nashua, Buley said.

Rivier hopes the name change will be a game-changer, especially in its global outreach to students in other countries.

“The name change to university is really founded on Rivier’s desire to give our students a global experience,” Buley said. “When the word ‘college’ is used abroad, like in the Phillipines, Europe or Latin America, ‘college’ means high school. So that university designation will truly give Rivier an opportunity for global engagement and to represent itself as a postsecondary institution.”

Part of that global expansion includes the creation of a new position: associate vice president of global engagement. The job has yet to be filled, but the person will manage agreements with international universities and create service, study abroad and internship opportunities in other countries.

Also, the school will open two new bachelor’s and master’s degree programs this fall, including bachelor’s degrees in global studies and transnational security, and master’s degrees in special education – one with a specialization in autism and another with a specialization in English for Speakers of Other Languages, which are both areas of significant need in Nashua and surrounding communities. Two doctoral programs will be added in Fall 2013, including doctoral degrees in counseling psychology and in school psychology.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Kittle on Twitter (@Telegraph_CamK).