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Wright State- Wrong University Leadership

The new wright state logo not done by YorkBranding or Push Inc. showing Wright State leadership under Dr. David Hopkins [1]

Wright State’s new logo signifying Dr David Hopkins’ leadership

Dr. David Hopkins is a nice guy. A very nice guy. But, frankly, how many screw ups is a leader allowed to have before he gets shown the door. Obviously, at least 9- like a cat, if it’s Wright State, Wrong University.

Off the top of my head- we have the hiring of Jim Leftwich, former head of the corrupt Dayton Development Coalition, who was working for the state at the same time as he was working for WSU- and funneling contracts to… wait for it… himself.

Then we have former state legislator, and now, lobbyist cum consultant, Ron Wine, collecting a million a year on a “consulting contract” – except, there was no contract- to “bring opportunities” to Wright State- which reeked so badly that statehouse leader Cliff Rosenberger felt it necessary to tell his fellow legislators “use caution on everything because clearly they can’t handle themselves right now.” [2]

And of course there is the H1-B visa scandal, where the university was sponsoring these permits to work in the U.S. for companies locally, including ones owned by some members of the board of trustees- as a modern day indentured servitude. Then in the investigation, they hired a law firm and an accounting firm and can’t figure out which one was protected by legal-client privilege when the newspaper did a Freedom of Information Act request.

As if that’s not enough to sink any mere mortal’s job, somehow, the son of the chairman of the board of trustees got hired to a $125K a year “information security job” straight out of the Air Force for a position that wasn’t posted- and the chairman voted on it. Of course, next up- a call for a $8 million “internet security upgrade” that was needed because of the very public presidential debate [3]. One doesn’t have to wonder too hard which of the trustees was going to get the contract for this work.

Two weeks ago, the University proudly announced a “new logo” for which they went to Florida to find the talent to help rebrand them (sounds painfully like the University of Dayton going to Philly for their sports rebrand which flopped originally [4]). This week- they chuck the work in the trash can. You can see the UD link for my list of curated local firms easily capable of doing the work- leaving mine out (I’m a Wright State grad- and have done more than a few corporate rebrands in my career).

Why Wright State ignores local talent, over and over is another sign that they don’t value their own graduates’ degrees much, nor the regional talent that they keep espousing.

Here is the gist of their reasoning for the new logo crashing and burning according to the Dayton Daily news:

Wright State University President David Hopkins says the school is scrapping a new logo that was unveiled last month for reasons that included “a number of deficiencies in the design.”

The university said Thursday that it will keep its current logo after considering feedback from community members, faculty, staff and students.

The proposed logo change — which included removing Wilbur Wright and color changes — was part of a larger rebranding effort the university launched in 2014.

Steve Gabbard, associate brand manager at Wright State, said that during the feedback process some said the logo looked too similar to logos used by Rumpke Waste & Recycling and Intel.

“The Wright Brothers connection was required,” Gabbard said. “People couldn’t imagine a logo without it.”

Hopkins sent an email to faculty and staff this week announcing the decision, but did not go into detail about why the new logo was rejected.

“Last month, we released recommended changes for campus review and input. That review has highlighted a number of deficiencies in the design,” Hopkins wrote. “At this point, the logo change is suspended and the branding effort will continue.”

Gabbard said the university initially removed the image of Wilbur next to the Wright Flyer because “it looked like someone missed the plane.”

Gabbard said WSU’s goal is to increase enrollment; each student contributes at least $10,000 to the school. Last fall’s enrollment was 18,059, according to the university’s website.

WSU paid Florida-based YorkBranding [5] $250,000 over the past year — with the majority going toward the design of the logo. In total, the university has spent around $850,000 on its branding effort, Gabbard said.

Despite opting to keep the logo it launched nearly two decades ago, university officials say funds paid to YorkBranding were worth the cost.

Source: Wright State rejects new logo, keeps Wilbur [6]

What’s not clear is how they stumbled onto YorkBranding for the blame on this, because when they announced this sucky logo, they were working with another Florida firm according to that DDn article:

The new logo is part of a larger rebranding effort the university launched in 2014. Trustees recently approved a $522,200 contract with the Orlando, Fla.,-based marketing firm Push, Inc. [7] to help lead the effort. The total cost of the rebranding wasn’t immediately available.

Source: New Wright State logo doesn’t include Wilbur | [8]

Once again, we seem to have a question of who did Wright State really hire? Push or York?

If Wright State really wanted to do a brand makeover, this was a topic of discussion in my very first meeting with David Hopkins over gyros. I suggested that the athletic brand “Raiders” had zero connection with the Wrights -and that the Green and Gold- selected because someone was a Packers fan made no sense either. There is a holistic approach to rebranding Wright State- but neither Push nor YorkBranding has a clue.

As to the idea that the brand mark is going to do much to change Wright State from “Beavertech” into a world class destination university, once again, someone needs to have their head examined. The fact that WSU has a “associate brand manager” is a clear indication that the university jumped the tracks long ago. The administrative bloat under Hopkins has raised costs, while faculty morale has dropped precipitously. All the new buildings do little to improve the quality of the education- and the fact that Wright State can’t find it within themselves to hire their own graduates to do their rebrand speaks clearly to how they value their own product.

Although, when they do hire their own graduates, like my classmate Bob Grant who is now the Athletic Director, his recent decision to fire the Basketball Coach, Billy Donlon, because he was failing “fan engagement” [9] reaches new lows in reasons for firing. The man produced graduates, changed lives, and still won a lot of games, despite having the lowest paid assistant coaches in the league. He also loved Wright State and bled Green and Gold for what it’s worth. Maybe if the university spent less on hiring former congressmen like Steve Austria as “consultants” [10](Austria is an actual registered lobbyist) and could explain how the odd hiring of the coach’s dad as the “Director of Operations” [11](makes for a really odd chain of command, don’t you think) the coach might have had a better shot. As to one big-money donor complaining that WSU basketball isn’t anything like UD basketball- the first thing to question is where did this genius go to school? Wright State isn’t Harvard either, nor should it be.

All this comes down to the old maxim often attributed to Steve Jobs: “A” people hire “A” people, “B” people hire “C” people. It’s time for a complete housecleaning at Wright State from the president and the board of trustees down to the athletic director, and the “associate brand manager.”

Wright State University needs to reexamine itself from the ground up. Is it supposed to be a school with a “top 100” basketball program, and be a world renowned research facility- or is it supposed to be an affordable place for local residents to get a degree while working, or being stationed at Wright Patt?

Now that the “lobbyists” are having their way with allowing community colleges to serve outside their counties and to possibly offer 4-year degrees, why not just let Sinclair take it over and we cut overhead and tuition drastically? I guarantee Wright State would grow exponentially with tuition at $98 a credit hour- no matter what logo you put on the school- even if it looks like a local trash company.



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Let’s clarify: the community colleges will only offer bachelor’s degrees in subjects where there is a local need for professionals in technical fields and where there are no universities already offering those degrees. Sinclair is in no danger of turning into a university. That’s a good thing, Sinclair is quite good at what they do, and as John Ciardi defined it, “a university is a college that’s quit caring about its students.”

Dave C.

Wright State admits 97% of applicants. This seems ridiculous to me.

How does this work? Just fill out the paperwork, and you’re in?

I would like to meet someone among the 3% refused admission. I’ll bet SAM’S CLUB turns down more than 3% of applicants.


> Once again, we seem to have a question of who did Wright State really hire? Push or York?

Both. Theirs was a joint bid. York was responsible for logo design (his prior work included the Sanyo logo, the BP shield, and the old brown Taco Bell logo) and related matters (signage, wayfinding), and Push. was responsible for the messaging and creative portion.


Is there any connection between York or Push and top WSU administrators or trustees? The new (now rejected logo) was basically the same as the old logo. New logo didn’t have Wilbur, but had a gold circle of sorts around the Wright B flyer (which was part of the old logo). The “Wright State University” font seems to have remained the same, but York did move and center
“University” under “Write State” as opposed to the old logo which had “Wright State University” all on the same line. Glad to see WSU is paying $250,000 for someone to hit the “Enter” button after typing Wright State and then typing University.


Bravo, yet again.


Wright State can’t get anything Wright. Various departments have had their share of messes throughout the years. The med school messed up when it fired an Ivy league dean. Think she is still drawing a salary as when last checked, she was still sitting in the WSRI. The quality of faculty has been less than average because they hire in leadership positions highly flawed characters who, like politicians, jump as high as master says because of their questionable backgrounds. One chair of a med school dept. falsified his CV and when one faculty brought these facts to leadership’s attention, he was forced out. This chair later on got caught taking inappropriate photos of patients without their permission and leadership (including Hopkins) let him stay on until he found a new job (scandal somewhat averted but everyone knows anyway. Its the worst secret no on talks about). They have associate Dean who was caught stalking a patient and still holds the position. We need to wake the *&$# up and get rid of these leeches sucking the blood out of the school and tainting the few good ones still there. Some seriously sick crap goes down there.

larry sizer

Another good read David, keep the torridity to their feet.

John H

This is an interesting post, but not really a surprise to me. I taught at Wright State 30 years ago. As a department chairman in the College of Business, I found that I had a “person” assigned to my department whose salary was coming out of my budget. When I asked what he would teach for the year that he would be with me, I was told that he wouldn’t teach anything, nor would he do research, or pretty much anything else.

I was told that he was a friend of the University president. Period.

Fact is, he was between jobs and needed a job. He got the job (salary) and after our first meeting when I was told that he wouldn’t be teaching, I never saw him again. I think officially he was a “consultant” but I was told that I didn’t have to concern myself with him or what he did. So I didn’t.

So, it appears to me this is just “same old same old”…apparently the Wright State “three card monte” game is alive and well…still!


Yes, once again it is all about who you know and how much money one can make with no difference about the knowledge of the task or position. It does not help in any way.

The logo is about the same in poor taste of the horrible UD logo ( reported here on this blog) that could not get any worse no matter how much funding you put behind it. Easy money for friends helping friends at the expense of students and staff.

It was about right learning that was not so wright which takes a back seat with corruption winning once again; a sad day indeed.


“As to one big-money donor complaining that WSU basketball isn’t anything like UD basketball- the first thing to question is where did this genius go to school? Wright State isn’t Harvard either, nor should it be.”

WOW! So are you saying UD basketball has the same prestige as Harvard academics?? Stick to the academic and business critique, those were well thought out. The incredible lack of insight into athletics makes you qualified for a position at Wright State.


I don’t think you understand the absurdity of what you’re saying. Harvard is a top 5 academic institution, therefore you’re saying UD is a top 5 basketball program?? Duke is a top 5 basketball program, Wright State is much closer to Duke in basketball than Harvard in academics. UD would be somewhere in the 50’s in terms of a basketball program, take off your blue and red glasses. Also UD arena opened in 1969, Wright State’s Allyn Hall was completed in 1964, and was founded as a University in 1967. I wasn’t aware the age of a bad arena was the measuring stick of basketball prowess either. Again stay out of athletics, you seem to have zero grasp of it. You get a bozo for, well, being a bozo.

Dave C.

This post should make me pretty unpopular:

UD is very expensive and academically unremarkable. A good place to park your lazy kid for 4 yours, if you’ve got the money. Third-rate private college.

WSU is cheap, but academically even worse than UD.

That leaves Sinclair, excellent bang-for-the-buck, but no 4 year degrees.

Once again, best option is to leave town.


You continue to fail to defend weak arguments by pivoting to even weaker opinions. That’s fine I’ll go there. You’re impression of atmosphere at UD arena isn’t uncommon, like other cryer faithful you regurgitate the same thing a real journalist wrote about sometime somewhere. Just because UD has been successful at getting large crowds to see them play doesn’t make the arena itself great. See NCAA games that have the atmosphere of a high school soccer game. For me I’d rather watch games at Hara over UD. Any arena that thousands of fans can’t get an unobstructed view of the scoreboard is not a good arena. Add in that those in the wings are closer to NCR and 75 than they are the court and doesn’t make UD arena elite. The Nutter certainly lacks atmosphere because of the schools failure to lure large crowds, but as a viewing venue it is tremendous. It is too big for the team it has currently but to say it’s been a “fiasco” seems to be far off, also don’t know what the “convertible” roof is. If you have been to their handful of sellouts over the past decade you have seen a solid mid major arena and atmosphere. Now please, stop talking about athletics, your ignorance gets brighter the more you do.

Dayton Bball fan

Davey, I do believe you’re talking out of your ass. I go to a handful of games at both arenas every year. Neither arena is great, neither is terrible, both solid mid major venues. Both share several of the same issues, including many of those you listed as positives for UD. This town and many of their fans deserve two good mid major programs and I believe both can get there.

Dave C.

Geez, I think the primary function of any college is education, not sports.

[…] Wright State University went to Florida for a rebrand, that was announced and renounced within 2 weeks. […]


You need my divine intervention!

Mr. Q

I agree totally, the administration is a disaster and it may be time for Hopkins to go, assuming the next President is not more of the same. But please don’t equate the admin with the school (they are different things, the admin has nothing to do with the educational mission and actually does its best to thwart it). And please don’t suggest everyone should go to Sinclair just because it is cheaper. My colleagues are first class researchers and dedicated teachers and a teacher at Sinclair may do no research at all and thus may not even be up to date in the field they teach. This might not matter to a student who is taking basic algebra or doesn’t care about their education, but at Wright State you can get a first class education and a great start in life if you are willing to do the work.


Thank you for shedding light on some of the shady dealings going on by Hopkins and current admin. They could have gotten a great logo for cheap if they had offered it as a scholarship contest for design students. So many ways to do this other than the wasteful ones that admin has gone with. It sickens me how many students that money could have helped, how many scholarships that could have funded, how much equipment that could have purchased to enhance student learning, how many things could have been purchased for the students’ benefit….


and based on the comment from Mr. Q, I should clarify by ‘admin’ I meant the administration under Hopkins, the provost, and those making decisions to fund these wasteful things. I was not including faculty. From my experience, most of the faculty is excellent and they are just as angry at the state of the budget and the situation that the university leaders have caused. Some faculty are fighting against this problem and are trying to return us to a better place….I hope more faculty join them


[…] find their secret sauce all will be ok. Then went wild with corporate strategies of reinvention. They spent a ton of money on a rebrand with some consultants from Florida, only to find out that the… looked more like the local rubbish disposal companies brand […]

[…] Dr. David Hopkins, who left the university in disgrace after losing over $130M in a 5-year period, had started pushing “Raider Country” to identify the multi-county region from which Wright State recruits most of its students. Hopkins also wasted an inordinate amount of money on a new logo that was swiftly rejected. https://esrati.com/wright-state-wrong-university-leadership/12794 […]