Celebrating the New Semester

KENNESAW, Ga. | Aug 20, 2019

Fall semester kicks off with celebration, KSU brand unveiling

Shortly after attending her first class as a Kennesaw State University freshman, Alexis Martin made her way to the Campus Green where she was greeted by gold balloons, a six-foot vanilla sheet cake and hundreds of her fellow students.
She stumbled across the First Day of School Cake, cut at the beginning of each fall semester by President Pamela Whitten in celebration of the start of another academic year. The event marks the continuation of a family tradition President Whitten started with her eldest child about 26 years ago, only this time it was highlighted by the launch of Kennesaw State’s new branding strategy.

Students at the First Day of School Cake event
Like Martin, many flocked to celebrations on the University’s two campuses on Monday to receive a first look at the institution’s new branding strategy – the result of a yearlong effort to better define the KSU’s purpose in the landscape of higher education and identify what it means to be an Owl – and to participate in a series of informational booths made to capture the brand essence. During the events, Alice Wheelwright, associate vice president of strategic communications and marketing, offered a glimpse behind the scenes on how the University crafted its new mission, vision and values, and aired a series of commercials created to accompany KSU’s new campaign, “Find Your WingsTM.”
“I love it,” said Martin, who is studying theater. “There wasn’t much school spirit at my high school, so that’s one of the things I was looking forward to coming here. I feel like this is the kind of thing that draws people to the school, when they see that you have so much pride in it.”
The festivities on each campus began with the playing of the KSU fight song followed by the arrival of Scrappy the Owl, cheerleaders and President Whitten. All around the Campus Green in Kennesaw and on the K Field in Marietta, students, faculty and staff snapped photos in front of a wall of outstretched wings. The wings, made to resemble those of an owl, will be used in print and digital material throughout the duration of the “Find Your Wings” campaign.
Students at the First Day of School Cake event
Lyss Hochberger, an information systems student, was among those in line waiting for their chance to take a picture. Having attended last year’s cake celebration, she said the event is a significant stress reliever in what is typically a busy time in the semester. Intrigued by the launch of the University’s new branding, she stayed to see it revealed via video and immediately felt a connection with the wing motif.

“To me, ‘Find Your Wings’ tells me to keep striving and climb as high as you can,” said Hochberger, a first-generation student. “It makes me feel like I still can achieve so much more in my time here.”
President Whitten, who spoke briefly before leading the ceremonial cutting of the cake, said the branding strategy should resonate with Owls both now and into the future. After her remarks, she helped distribute cake slices to the throngs of students who gathered around the confectionary. University Dining, led by Pastry Chef David Halbruner, created the two cakes used in the celebration, using more than 125 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of flour, 720 large eggs and 12 gallons of milk to craft nearly 30 square feet of cake.
"The notion of Find Your Wings really expresses our goals and values of making this a place where students, who are the center of our universe, find their inspiration, find their passion, find the things that will drive them to move forward to accomplish their hopes and dreams,” Whitten said.
Following an impromptu photo-op with President Whitten at the Marietta event, Seth Durant found himself at the front of the line for the first slice of cake. A mechanical engineering technology student, he took notice to the collection of pole banners spread across campus bearing the campaign’s tagline.
“I think it’s a great initiative,” he said. “I think it will have a big impact on students figuring out what they want to do. It’s good to see the new banners all over the place and see the University taking this to a different level.”

—Travis Highfield

Photography by David Caselli, Jason Getz, and Robert Witzel

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.