As hordes of reporters and politicians descended on Lynn University for Monday night’s debate, it seemed likely that at least a few of them quipped about the small private institution’s relative obscurity.
But the university, in Boca Raton, Fla., was ready with a feisty retort: “We’ve never heard of you, either.”
That was the message emblazoned on hundreds of official debate T-shirts that the university distributed to students over the past several days.
The idea for the slogan came from the university’s president, Kevin M. Ross.
“A lot of alums say to me that they wish our school were more widely known,” he said. “And I think it’s something that has bothered students from time to time.” So, at the most recent commencement address, Mr. Ross said he floated the idea of creating the “we’ve never heard of you, either” T-shirts for the debate and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
“One of the things we recognize about our school, being only 50 years old, is that we often suffer from newness,” Mr. Ross said. “We want people to know about us.”
Hosting the presidential debate—which is costing the university some $4.5-million—is a good way of raising Lynn’s national profile, he said. The university has also sought to use the debate as a learning experience for its students, adding 80 classes related to the presidency and political debates.
The T-shirts, though, quickly became one of the most popular aspects of the debate on the campus.
“We went through a couple of hundred of shirts in about 40 minutes,” Mr. Ross said, adding that demand for the T-shirts had been “second only to tickets to the debate itself.”