FAQ | Name Change and Rebrand Initiative

The cabinet announced during the 2023 annual conference that Great Plains IDEA is exploring the possibility of changing its name. Great Plains IDEA and AG IDEA are good names and have served us well for 23 years, but our alliance has grown in that time and not all members (universities and people) see themselves in the name “Great Plains.”

The goal of this initiative is to elevate the competitive advantages of this alliance. When prospective students, university partners, and search engines better understand our purpose through our name, our potential for growth will expand.

You probably have questions! Hopefully, this FAQ will answer many of them. If you still have questions after reviewing this page please share them with Executive Director Chelsea Barbercheck. She will work with the cabinet and management team to continue building this FAQ. After all, someone else likely has the same question as you. 

  • What’s wrong with the name we have now?
    • Great Plains IDEA and AG IDEA are good names and have served us well for 23 years. But our alliance has grown in that time and not all members (universities and people) see themselves in the name “Great Plains.” It’s important that the alliance be inclusive so that all members are reflected independent of geography. After all, our mission is to serve learners no matter where they are.
    • In addition, the current name doesn’t make clear who we are, what we offer, or who we serve.
    • Our hope is to find a name that can grow with us as we continue to expand to new universities, additional disciplines, and even new countries. Some believe “distance education” is outdated and a more modern name could provide further reach.
  • How will a new name benefit the alliance?
    • The goal of this initiative is to elevate the competitive advantages of this alliance. When prospective students, university partners, and search engines better understand our purpose through our name, our potential for growth will expand.
    • A new name will increase the connectedness students feel to the alliance and therefore create a greater sense of belonging on a more personal level. This was an area of opportunity uncovered by our member experience survey in the fall of 2022.
  • Will GP IDEA and AG IDEA both change their name?

    The boards of directors for both agriculture and human sciences have agreed to explore the idea of moving under one name that is inclusive of multiple disciplines. Keep in mind that with just one name, the alliance can focus time and resources to create awareness for one galvanizing brand.

  • Will the alliance remain focused on the human sciences and agriculture?

    The alliance will remain committed to the human sciences and agriculture disciplines. However, there is always the possibility that the alliance could branch out and expand into other disciplines. Therefore, selecting a name that is inclusive of many disciplines would allow the alliance to serve more learners and remain agile in a changing higher education landscape.

  • Could we just keep Great Plains IDEA?

    Yes. This is the exploratory phase of the initiative. All possibilities are on the table, even keeping our original name.

  • Whose idea was it to explore a new name?

    For several years, alliance faculty and staff have reported fielding questions about confusion in our name from colleagues, conference planners, associations, regents, and prospective students. Further, some alliance members feel the name hampers their ability to recruit across the United States. The cabinet reflects the alliance’s innovative, inclusive, and flexible values by exploring the possibilities.

  • How long has this been in the works?
    • The cabinet started discussions of a potential name change in October 2022. They first tasked the management team to research the benefits and risks of a name change, learn about companies and organizations who have successfully navigated a name change, create a budget that ensures this initiative is fully funded, and create a timeline outlining every step of the way. All three governing bodies (the cabinet, Human Sciences Board, and AG Board) were presented with this research and the cabinet voted to proceed with exploring a new name at their March 23, 2023, meeting.
  • How long will this initiative take?

    There are four phases to this initiative:

    • exploring and choosing a new name,
    • developing a new or refreshed logo,
    • rebranding collateral, and
    • raising awareness.

    Throughout all of these phases, the management team will be communicating (psst: be reading the Alliance Insider!), as well as gathering input from faculty, staff, and students. Assuming no delays or hiccups, the current timeline has the new name announcement in October with the formal launch of the new name with a new brand at the 2024 Annual Conference in Kansas City.

  • Where is the money for this initiative coming from?

    The cabinet has its own budget and is using those funds to pay for this initiative.

  • Will the alliance also get a new brand?

    Potentially. Depending on the new name there may be elements of our logo and colors that remain the same. The budget for this initiative includes bringing in a marketing firm to create a new or refreshed brand that elevates our new name. The timeline and budget account for banners, flyers, and other branded items that will be updated or created.

  • If we have a new name and brand, how will we tell the world?
    • The cabinet has approved a budget to support two marketing campaigns that will take place immediately following the launch of the new name and brand. This includes search engine marketing and LinkedIn marketing that will raise awareness for the alliance as a whole (not program-specific marketing). The budget also provides for hiring a marketing firm to oversee these campaigns and work with the management team.
    • During the summer of 2024, the management team will focus on updating the YouTube Channel and existing testimonials, while also recording and adding new testimonials that highlight the new name.
  • How will this affect the www.gpidea.org website?
    • The current website has been in existence for seven years and the industry standard is to refresh websites every five to seven years. So whether the alliance gets a new name or sticks with Great Plains IDEA, it’s time for a website overhaul.
    • The management team will begin working with web developers during the fall semester. When the new website is ready to go live (spring 2024), users will automatically be routed to the new site.
  • How will people know where to find the GP IDEA programs they have heard about in the past?
    • Whether a new name is selected or not, the alliance will be getting a new website.
    • Alliance web developers will set up redirects to ensure anyone using an outdated or broken link is redirected to the new website.
    • Prospective and current students will still use the new alliance website to learn about our programs; find out what courses are offered and when; and locate helpful resources such as student handbooks, the new student orientation, the Student Success Center, and how to enroll in courses.
    • If the alliance does change its name, there will be a transition period in which we use language identifying the alliance as “New Name – previously known as Great Plains IDEA.”
  • How will everybody on my campus learn about the new name and brand?
    • Within each phase of this initiative, there are intentional, scheduled communications through the Alliance Insider, list servs, student emails, and press releases.
    • If a new name is selected, it is scheduled to be announced in October 2023. Following the announcement there will be several months in which the alliance will still operate as Great Plains IDEA while new branding is created, collateral is updated with the new name and brand, the new website is tested and launched, and resources are created to support campuses in making changes.
    • Once the new brand and name are rolled out at the 2024 conference, resources will be shared widely with various stakeholders.
  • What if I have thoughts about what the new name could be?

    The management team will be gathering information from you in the coming weeks and months as they continue exploring this initiative. They will use surveys to gather your feedback and better understand how you view the alliance and why it’s important to you, and to collect your questions and suggestions for a new name.

  • Has the cabinet discussed specific names already?

    The short answer is no. The cabinet will earnestly seek input from the alliance community throughout this initiative, and that includes suggestions for a new name.

  • How will this affect contracts already signed by Great Plains IDEA?

    Some contracts may require an addendum addressing the new name. The management team has and will continue to rely on advice from General Counsel.

  • As a student, will this have any effect on my degree progress?

    No. Students earn their degrees from their home university. The alliance is the mechanism through which member universities share grades, collaborate on curriculum, and determine course rotations, among other things. If the alliance changes its name and branding, that will not affect student plans of study, the degree granting processes at universities, or past degrees.

  • Who makes the final decision on whether we have a new name?

    As the governing body, the cabinet will have the final say on what the new name will be, but they aren’t operating in a vacuum. There are several opportunities for members of the alliance to provide input to the cabinet.

  • Are there negative effects to changing our name?

    There are. The management team’s research has uncovered a handful of items that require consideration; however, they believe the challenges identified can be counteracted with thoughtful planning. For example, a name change would perpetuate a loss in search engine rankings, therefore the budget proposed to the cabinet includes a line for search engine marketing to help regain any lost ground.

  • What if I don't see my question here?

    You probably are not the only person who has that question! Please email Executive Director Chelsea Barbercheck to share your question. She will work with the cabinet and management team to continue building out this FAQ.