MC student designs new logo for Appalachian College Association

MC student designs new logo for Appalachian College Association

Jan. 25, 2019

An original design created by Maryville College senior Evan Gambill ’19 is now the Appalachian College Association’s (ACA) new logo.

This week, the ACA unveiled the new design, which will be featured on the organization’s printed materials and electronic media.

The ACA is a non-profit consortium of 35 private four-year liberal arts institutions spread across the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Collectively, these higher education institutions serve nearly 65,000 students. Maryville College is a member institution.

The logo designed by Gambill includes the organization’s name with the Appalachian mountains in the background – all framed by a graduation cap.

“In my logo design, my primary goal was to incorporate some elements from their previous logo,” said Gambill, a design major from Maryville, Tenn. “The easiest way for me to achieve this was to include shades of yellow and dark teal they had previously used. It was clear to me that I needed to strike a balance between updating their look, while also respecting the qualities of their past identity. The best way to visualize a college association such as the ACA was with the graduation cap. The graduation cap is symbolic for both the future of upcoming graduates and for the past of college alumni.

“I wanted the logo to be simple, yet very functional,” Gambill continued. “To do this, I put all the elements into one space: the graduation cap. The union of these elements represent their previously known identity (colors), their location (Appalachian mountains), and their mission as a college community of faculty and students (graduation cap). Having everything in one space is convenient and readable for an audience. It tells a great story about what the ACA provides, even from just one glance.”

Adrienne Schwarte, chair of the Division of Fine Arts and associate professor of art at Maryville College, assisted the ACA with the logo project, providing recommendations and consultation about how to draft a call for participation in a logo competition. The ACA then developed the call for participation in August and invited current students at ACA member institutions to submit designs by Nov. 2.

Schwarte, along with several faculty and staff members at other ACA institutions, were asked to serve on a review committee to review all proposals and make recommendations to the ACA president for selection of the winning design. The panel used several criteria in evaluating the designs, including: artistic merit and graphic strength; originality; ability of the design to communicate the work of the ACA; and the ability of the design to be successfully utilized in print and electronic uses.

“The designs were submitted in a blind review,” Schwarte said. “I was aware that MC students may have submitted designs to the competition, but I never saw any student designs prior to the blind review of the designs, and I didn’t know the identity of the winning design until after ACA selected it and notified the review committee.”

Gambill's design was selected from "a strong pool" of student designs, said Beth Rushing, president of the Appalachian College Association.

“The review committee was particularly impressed with the way his design highlighted the academic focus shared by our member institutions, while retaining the imagery of the Appalachian mountains,” Rushing said.

When he learned that his logo was selected as the winning design, Gambill said he was surprised – and “very proud.”

“I had been strategic in planning this redesign, so I was glad that my concept was just what they needed. I was excited to be able to work on this redesign, because I love designing and redesigning logos,” said Gambill, who plans to work for a design firm in Florida after he graduates from Maryville College in May. “As a design major, winning a design competition is a big deal because it shows that your work stands out and is worth noticing. This is definitely an impressive portfolio piece and is also a great conversation piece for my design career – it’s an opportunity for me to explain, in this particular instance, why I redesigned the ACA logo the way I did.”

Schwarte said it is a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student to be involved in such a high-profile design project.

“We are so excited for Evan to have such a large visual presence with his work for the ACA,” Schwarte said. “It will be seen by so many other institutions and professionals, and even though ACA is a regional organization, the work will certainly have national reach, as ACA institutional members are over 30 colleges and universities with staff and students from all across the country.” 

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About the Appalachian College Association:

The Appalachian College Association is a non-profit consortium of 35 private four-year liberal arts institutions spread across the central Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Collectively these higher education institutions serve nearly 65,000 students.

The mission of the Association is to serve Appalachian communities through the transformational work of its faculty, staff, and students. Programs offered by the Association are designed to promote cooperation and collaboration among member institutions, and to support scholarly and creative activities of faculty and students. For instance, the Bowen Central Library of Appalachia provides a collection of significant library resources for every student at ACA institutions. The ACA also hosts an annual Teaching and Leadership Institute for ACA faculty and staff to learn about and develop new teaching approaches and campus leadership skills. Students at ACA institutions are eligible for Ledford Scholarships, which provide support for summer research projects. And faculty at ACA institutions are eligible for fellowships to support their scholarly and creative work, or for earning a terminal degree.

For more information about the ACA, please visit www.acaweb.org.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,154.