TAMPA — Leave town and ask somebody where they think the University of South Florida is located.
Want to bet they'll say South Florida?
In an attempt to clear up that misconception, USF will soon add "Tampa Bay" to its logo in new marketing materials. A corresponding slogan will read "USF is Tampa Bay."
It's not a name change, cautions university spokesman Michael Hoad, but merely an added tagline.
It will appear on the USF website in January, he said. People may also see it on business cards, brochures or advertisements. Adding it to signs on campus would be far too costly, Hoad said.
The idea has been brewing for at least a couple of years, since Hoad took an informal survey about USF's national reputation that revealed much confusion.
Some people, not surprisingly, assume the Tampa-based school is in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Others confuse it with the University of Central Florida.
Then there's this example: When USF researchers gained national recognition for studying the giant Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Time magazine identified the university as SFU, Hoad said.
"USF is gaining an international reputation and becoming one of the major research universities in the country," Hoad said. "The confusion hurts us."
When the school was founded in 1956, it was known as the university that was south of the University of Florida in Gainesville. Thus, it became the University of South Florida.
"This is a way of clarifying our location, especially outside the state," Hoad said.
It's primarily intended for USF in Tampa, as other institutions in the USF system such as USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF St. Petersburg already have more descriptive names. USF Polytechnic, formerly USF Lakeland, is a known brand, he said.
"But the University of South Florida doesn't have anything that helps clarify where it is," Hoad said.
A total name change for USF is highly unlikely, he added
Kim Wilmath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.