Cowley College

Mining Legacy To Become An Indelible Choice for Higher Education


As one of 33 community colleges in the State of Kansas, Cowley College was in need of a signature communications strategy to move beyond indifference outside its base.

With the success of offerings such as a growing aeronautics specialty and an accomplished natural sciences and mathematics program, the College had a story as yet untold.

We were asked to find it. 


When established in 1922, the College had no physical plant of its own, with classes conducted in the service garage and basement of a high school.

This practice continued through the 1960s, even as the College grew, resulting in an alumni base with memories at what was informally known as Basement University.

We uncovered the buried story behind the institution and recast it, to resonate not only with alumni audiences, but also with today's student on a relevant and memorable basis, as the institution's beginnings offered parallels to the humble – and later successful – garage and/or basement origin stories of a number of what are now well-known and highly valued companies, such as Apple, Virgin, and Harley Davidson.

Our execution engages prospective students as digital natives, in addition to a flagpole speaker series and, for their accomplished athletics teams, new visual identity. 


The signature story emerged, referencing business success stories that began as area start-ups: 

Basement University.

Long ago our classes were held in a basement.  Of a high school.  But don’t let that fool you.  

Here you acquire the tools and the room to create the next big idea.  Much like other achievers who developed their big ideas in garages or basements, leading to successes such as Pizza Hut, Rent-A-Center, and Cessna.  

So, let’s see how good you really are.  In our Basement.

What before was seen as an ignoble beginning is flipped into a source of pride and affiliation drawpointing students to career success.

Since launch, a YOY 21.2 percent enrollment increase, along with a bump in philanthropic giving allowing expansion of associate degree offerings. 


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443 Park Avenue South
11th Floor
New York, NY 10016

(212) 300-3760