What's in a name?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by italiansupernova, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. italiansupernova

    italiansupernova New Member

    I recall reading somewhere (not sure if it was Degreeinfo or where) that for little known colleges/universities a "university" was likely to get more attention, for lack of a better term, from employers and also likely to carry more prestige. For example, how many of you have heard of Hiram College? It's doubtful that many of you have, but Hiram is a small RA school located here in Ohio. Would Hiram be better off if they were known as Hiram University? I've personally always felt that university carries more weight than "college" particularly for the "lesser known" schools.

    I've also often wondered exactly why the term "state" is used in a college/univesity name. For example: Youngstown STATE University. Youngstown is obviously no "big time" place, but it is good size city (pop. over 80,000). Is the term state used to enhance the credibilty of the school? If that's the case why are there some "state" schools where the term is omitted like the University of Akron? Now of course, for little ol' Shawnee State in Portsmouth, OH the term state seems relavent because Portsmouth seemingly operates in obscurity.

    One last thought: In Ohio we have "Ohio University". Virginia has the "University of Virginia". I just wonder where the name selection really comes into play. Does it make any difference at all?

    I'm anxious to hear your thoughts, opinions, etc. Also, if you know of any good reads about this topic please let me know.

  2. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

  3. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Re: Re: What's in a name?

    It seems like there's a real trend for institutions that offer any kind of graduate degrees to rename themselves "university".

    One prominent school that defiantly goes in the opposite direction is the College of William and Mary. It's the second oldest higher education institution in what is now the United States (est. 1697) behind Harvard and has gobs of tradition. (Thomas Jefferson earned his degree there. George Washington took classes but somehow never graduated.) Lots of people are surprised to hear that W&M is really a Virginia state university with doctoral programs and everything. (I guess that it's the closest that the state universities come to an ivy league atmosphere.)

    The other day I found out why Dartmouth College determinedly keeps its 'college' name, despite its many doctoral programs in the sciences and medicine. It seems that Darmouth College was established with a British royal charter in later colonial times (it's the ninth oldest higher education institution in the country). In the early 1800's the New Hampshire state government revoked Dartmouth's charter, took the school under state control, established a different board of trustees, and renamed th place Dartmouth University. The deposed trustees went to court and the case progressed all the way to the Supreme Court, where Daniel Webster (a Dartmouth alum) argued aganst the state. The Supremes found for the rights of private universities in what's considered a landmark case. So Dartmouth defiantly went back to being Dartmouth College.

  4. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Re: Re: Re: What's in a name?

    Interesting stuff. I have asked a few at some high-end liberal arts institutions why they continue to use the name "college" when so many opt for "university" (especially the comprehensive undergraduate institutions). The answers that I usually get are: 1) the institution is well known under then name "college"; 2) They turn down far more students than they admit, so they do not need the name "university" for marketing purposes; 3) They equate "university" with a primary focus on research, rather than highest quality undergraduate teaching, whch is their focus and 4) Changing the name would likely tick off bunch of alumni (who tend to be generous doners to the college).

    Tony Pina
    Northeastern Illinois University
  5. Rob L

    Rob L New Member

    Unlike those who have posted to this thread, I am not an "academic" who teaches (or is employed) by any college or university. However, I find this thread interesting. I think the importance of the name is relative to the educational institution. In general, the name "university" carries a bit more weight and prestige than the name "college" In the case of for-profit schools, the name "University" is very important. For example, could you imagine if University of Phoenix was renamed Phoenix College. Or, if AIU became American Intercontinental College.

    If for-profits didn't use the word university, I suspect their enrollments wouldn't be nearly as large. These schools target students more interested in moving the company ladder rather than those interested in research. I feel that the "average" employer subconsciously views the word "university" as somehow being better than "college". Because these colleges attract career-minded individuals, the name "university" is likely going to attract these students, and the employers who reimburse many of them.

  6. aic712

    aic712 Member

    I imagine one of the main reasons that UOP didn't use "phoenix college" is that there alread was a phoenix college, and it is now called maricopia community college.
  7. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    I think it sounds pompous and vaguely ludicrous when a small school calls itself a university, grad programs or no. To me, the use of "college" is much classier, because much more self-assured.

    A small school which offers lots of graduate degrees or primarily graduate degrees would IMO sound more prestigious if it called itself, say "Widget Institute" or "Widget Graduate School" (adding "of..." if it's a specialty school or, if unique in its field, calling itself "Institute of Advanced Widget Studies"). This last option usefully lends itself to the adding of a big donor's name at the front end, such as the "King Carol Institute of Advanced Widget Studies." (The late monarch was, IIRC, mightily interested in Mme. Lupescu's widget.)

    The old nomenclature kook also detests the faltering of doctoral degree nomenclature other than "PhD.", not to mention the decline of actual D.A. programs--and the misappropriation of that nomenclature by a seminary excessively discussed here.
  8. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    Actually, Phoenix College is still Phoenix College. It has never changed its name. The Maricopa Community Colleges is the name for community college system that is located in the greater Phoenix metro area. It includes ten community colleges (including Phoenix College) and two community college centers. I used to teach in the Maricopa system (at Rio Salado college).

    I agree that many schools have added "university" to their names for marketing purposes. An example, in my opinion, would be DeVry University.

    Tony Piña
    Administrator, Northeastern Illinois University
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    My alma mater, St. Martin's College, now offers a handful of master's degree programs.

    They're still a "college" not a "University".
  10. agilham

    agilham New Member

    Errrrr. Not this St Martin's? http://www.stmartin.edu/about/CollegeToUniversityQA.asp

  11. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    Yes, that is EXACTLY who I meant.

    Oy, veh, I suppose all things change with time.
  12. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Their "reasoning" is pretty much what the posters here have said; add a few M.A. degrees and "presto" you're a University!

    I STILL think it's nonsense!

    I wonder if they will re issue my B.A. diploma?
  13. agilham

    agilham New Member

    It reminds me of the mass twitching and name changing amongst the constituent colleges of the University of Wales in the run-up to the ex-polytechnics gaining university status in 1992. Suddenly, having college in your institution's name became the kiss of death. We all woke up one morning in Aberystwyth to discover that UCW had suddenly mutated into UWA.

    Strangely enough, UCL has never seemed to find the word "college" much of a problem.

    By the way, I know this is nosey, but how on earth did a member of the chosen people fall among Benedictines?

  14. italiansupernova

    italiansupernova New Member

    What about Ashworth College to Ashworth University? Or would it even make sense because they, oddly enough, they don't even offer bachelor degrees.

    This whole thing is confusing to me. But, ultimately I guess, as long as their legitimate what's the big deal right?
  15. ashton

    ashton New Member

    Cooper Union

    The most unusual name I can think of is The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (www.cooper.edu ). Back when I was looking for an undergraduate college, I didn't know what to make of the material they sent me. (That was in the '70s.)
  16. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    Re: Cooper Union

    Cooper Union is an odd duck. A convergence and collision of free-market and socialistic notions. Peter Cooper was a man of his times and one of many odd-duck American "industrialists."

    Read the history page on their site.

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