MURRAY — When it comes to objects that generate important funds for Murray State University, a license plate probably is not one of the first things that come to mind.
Maybe they should, as was evidenced from the surprised looks on the faces of audience members for Friday’s meeting of the Murray State University Board of Regents, when the subject was discussed in President Dr. Bob Jackson’s report. It appears that license plates are very serious business on the campus, in fact.
“You wouldn’t think that,” Jackson said in discussing how Murray State is the leading public institution of higher learning in Kentucky when it comes to sales of license plates bearing the colors and logos of those schools. “That’s in regard to the number of license plates sold, and the additional fee from them goes into scholarships.”
Jackson said some years have seen as much as $25,000 to $30,000 generated in funds for scholarships, which is why he focused Friday on a contest that has been ongoing for a few weeks to determine the style and color of the license plate that will be circulated for this year. This is the first year for the license plate to have a vote like this, and university Director of Alumni Relations Carrie McGinnis said she has been quite impressed with how much attention it has received so far.
“The process has been a lot of fun. We’ve had over 1,100 votes on Facebook for it alone and it’s reached over $25,000 on our Facebook page too. We’ve also had about 100 take part in our Twitter poll,” McGinnis said of the university’s Alumni and Friends page. “Last year, we were able to fund $18,000 in scholarships, and that’s just from the license plates alone. We see this not only as a great branding opportunity for when we see those license plates going down the roads, but it’s also benefiting our students and giving them additional help that they need once they become Racers.”
Jackson said the license plate discussion was part of the Racers Roadshow program earlier in the summer in which several Murray State administrators, some faculty and several coaches took a wide-ranging tour of the region to meet with alumni in such places as Louisville, St. Louis and Nashville, Tennessee. He said it appeared to resonate everywhere the tour went.
“We talked about the license plates with our donors, our alumni, our friends and a lot of them voted in person,” he said. “We haven’t had a change to our plate in probably 10 or 12 years, so we decided to do it this way and it looks like it’s really caught on.”
McGinnis said 400 votes were received during the Racers Roadshow. The contest is continuing through the end of today.
The vote for the new Murray State license plate is available on Twitter or through the Murray Sate Alumni and Friends Facebook page. Six versions, three on white backgrounds and three on navy blue backgrounds are offered.