Mason’s study abroad office rebrands itself for second time
BY JENNIFER SHASKAN & NATALIA KOLENKO
Mason’s study abroad office has rebranded itself for the second time in just over a year.
Originally named the Center for Global Education, the office switched its name to the Mason Study Abroad office in February 2016. Now in March 2017, the office has again changed its name, this time to the Global Education Office (GEO).
Brian Gibson, the director of the Global Education Office, said when he was recruited by Mason seven months ago, he did not like the restrictions the name Study Abroad brought to mind because the office does more than just study.
“We do a lot of experiential programming, and education is really more about what we do, which could encompass both study and the experiential, so we moved back toward global education,” Gibson said. “We could have been the Center for Global Education again, but we like the acronym GEO, and we’re calling ourselves an office as opposed to a center for that.”
Gibson said back when the office was called the Center for Global Education, the management at the time wanted to be very clear about what the office did; therefore, they changed the name to Mason Study Abroad, as the Center for Global Education could mean a lot of different things. And so for a year the office was known as Mason Study Abroad.
Achim Loch, the internet marketing outreach coordinator for GEO, said that when the office changed from the Center for Global Education to Mason Study Abroad, it was in part because their social media accounts were already named variations of Mason Study Abroad and the office was updating its system anyway. Eventually they realized that the name was too restricting, he added.
“GEO is great, because it is clear what it is, while with Mason Study Abroad inevitably we had this acronym that no one wanted but everyone used, MSA, which could mean a variety of things.
Despite the number of name changes, General Manager for GEO Marie Alice Arnold is confident these changes will only benefit the students and the university in their plans to grow the department.
According to Arnold, Mason has an “aggressive growth plan” that seeks to increase the amount of students studying abroad to 3,000 or more.
“Our goal with the rebranding — and it’s a very lofty one — long-term is to have every Mason student in some form have a global experience,” Gibson said.
This goal starts with identifying the office in terms of what it actually does, Gibson said. The office has been putting a lot of work into program development and making sure students have a variety of choice in locations and subject matter to study.
Senior Adam Gambrel, who studied abroad in France in spring 2016, said the name change is for the best but wishes for more consistency.
“I think that the new name better encompasses what the office does, but it is difficult to keep up with them when they keep changing and rebranding so much. I’d like to see more consistency from now on honestly,” Gambrel said.
Senior Cassidy Swanson also said she finds the name change confusing.
“If someone is not seriously paying attention, they aren’t going to know who to talk to [for studying abroad]. It doesn’t help keep their numbers up, because there is no brand recognition,” Swanson said.
Gibson added that there is the concern that students will be confused about the name change and the office has its work cut out for itself in terms of outreach and engagement. He said, however, that he is confident they will be able to build up the office’s programs and reputation.
“I’m a strong believer in if you create quality programming, student participation is going to follow,” Gibson said. “Our challenge is to create compelling experiences.”