Banners with the new school name have already started appearing on campus.

When the class of 2023 graduates from what is now Oakton Community College, there will be a different name and different college seal on the diplomas.

Effective Jan. 17, the word “Community” is being dropped, and the two-year school will simply be called Oakton College.

While the change is not drastic, the idea, according to Oakton President Joianne Smith, is to acknowledge the school’s past while building public visibility and attracting new students.

Joianne Smith.

As with many other community colleges nationwide, Oakton saw enrollment drop during the coronavirus pandemic.

The goal now, says Smith, is to “refresh our brand and reintroduce ourselves to the community.”

Oakton, she says, will remain a two-year, open-enrollment institution, with a variety of academic and job training programs.

“We are a community college and proud of being a community college,” Smith adds.

“But we felt the name ‘Oakton’ would resonate with students as a way to get their relevant, life-changing education.”

A name change idea stated percolating in 2019, when Oakton celebrated its 50th anniversary and created a long-range strategic plan. It took a COVID-delayed while to come up with the rebranding specifics.

Light-pole signs have already been put up with the new name and logo. Other changes, such as website graphics, will kick in on the 17th.

The new college logo.

Other aspects of the $400,000 rebranding, such as letterheads and other documents, will be spread out over three years, to hold down the cost, and make sure environmental concerns such as recycling are incorporated.

The new logo, which accompanies the name, is not a radical departure from the old one.

The seal for diplomas, however, will be a lot different. There will be a tree with winding roots, along with the words “educate, empower, transform,” which are in the school’s mission statement.

Oakton has two campuses, one in Skokie, the other in Des Plaines.

There are about 6,000 credit-earning students, with more than 500 from Evanston.

And despite no longer having “Community” in the name, the word “community” is frequently used by school officials in describing the mission.

“We will always be the community college” for this area, Smith says.

“That has not changed.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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