Education

University of Northern Iowa Credit Union unveils its new name: UNITE

Change spurred by new law, joins University of Iowa rebrand

Because of a new state law, the University of Northern Iowa Credit Union has changed its name to UNITE Credit Union.

(Provided by UNITE Credit Union)
Because of a new state law, the University of Northern Iowa Credit Union has changed its name to UNITE Credit Union. (Provided by UNITE Credit Union)

Just as the University of Iowa Community Credit Union last month unveiled a new name in response to a law barring credit unions from including state universities in their titles, the University of Northern Iowa Credit Union is announcing its new moniker: UNITE Credit Union.

Its board of directors chose the new name after inviting its 1,933 members to submit suggestions online.

“From the responses, the board of directors chose UNITE, believing this name best fits the credit union’s mission,” according to a news release. “The UNITE Credit Union wants to join all of its members together to celebrate the new name and the excellent customer service and member-owners’ benefits that are offered every day.”

The name change went into effect Jan. 1 — with estimated rollout completion by April 30. Its website already boasts the new UNITE name and purple-and-gold logo, both of which hint at the former UNI affiliation.

The new University of Iowa Community Credit Union name, GreenState Credit Union, was unveiled Feb. 27, with officials hoping to hear back on the patent application by the end of March.

The UICCU website has not yet been updated with the new name as officials don’t expect to hear back from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices until March 27 at the earliest, according to UICCU Chief Marketing Officer Jim Kelly.

Neither credit union today is affiliated with their namesake schools — although both started with connections.

The UICCU debuted in 1938 as the State University of Iowa Hospital Employees Credit Union, expanding in 1966 to serve all UI staff, students and alumni. In 1988, the credit union added “community” to its title and amended its charter to serve all residents.

Current estimates are that about 75 percent of UICCU members have no UI connection.

The UNI Credit Union was established in 1955 for UNI faculty, alumni and students, along with employees, students, faculty and alumni of the Cedar Falls School District. In 2012, Midwest Utilities Credit Union — including MidAmerican Energy, Greco Financial and Nagle Signs employees, retirees, and families — merged with the UNI Credit Union.

Even though both credit unions shed their university exclusivity years ago, the perception they are affiliated with the schools has persisted.

Board of Regents member Larry McKibben aired concerns about that last year. He suggested the reputations of Iowa’s public universities could be harmed by unapproved association with major financial institutions should the entities become ensnared in scandal.

The discussion spurred debate and eventually the new law and regents policy barring unassociated entities from using university trademarks in their names. The law gives affected credit unions until April 30 to rebrand — including their signage, documents and other materials.

The UICCU has estimated the cost of making the change at about $2.5 million — or about 1 percent of its projected annual revenue.

Reporting current assets of $5.2 billion, the UICCU is the largest credit union in Iowa.

The UNI Credit Union is much smaller in size and membership, reporting $22 million in assets as of Dec. 31, 2017.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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