Mississippi University for Women President Claudia Limbert, right, speaks with MUW alum and retired state Chief Justice Lenore Prather following a staff convocation Monday, where moments before, Limbert announced the school's choice for a new name. Photo by: Kelly Tippett
August 10, 2009 10:30:00 AM
Mississippi University for Women President Dr. Claudia Limbert announced the school''s choice for a new name this morning at a faculty/staff convocation.
And received a standing ovation from a full-house at Nissan Auditorium.
While the announcement ended a months-long process of committee work, it touched off another months-long process that will require the approval of the state Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees and the full Mississippi Legislature.
The name also likely will be picked apart by dissatisfied alumni, who have criticized both Limbert''s leadership and the need for a name change.
If approved by the IHL, the name will be submitted for approval to the state Legislature.
MUW officials said Reneau University refers to Sally Reneau, who, in the late 19th century, lobbied the state Legislature for the school to be built.
Limbert this morning called Reneau -- who was 18-years-old when she first lobbied the Legislature for the creation of the first state-supported female college in the United States -- a "remarkable woman."
"It is time to build that monument (to her)," she said.
"We must remember that our university is not an island," she added, referring to the process by which the Institutes of Higher Learning will recommend a new name to the state Legislature. "We must remember our university is the university of and for the entire state."
Before the announcement, West Point Mayor Scott Ross, who also serves as president of the IHL board of trustees, gave his "personal opinion" on the issue of a new name for the university.
"The decision to move forward with a name change is not just optional, it''s a matter of survival," he said. "This university does not need to be closed, but, if this university wants to survive, my personal opinion is you have to adapt to where we are today.
"I don''t believe this university will be a player, long-term, if we don''t adapt and change who we are today," he continued. "For the university to remain relevant, we have to change."
Acknowledging the emotions behind the issue, Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank Bounds stressed a need to "put logic and future preservation ahead of emotion."
"Changing the name can have a real impact on retention and access issues," he said. "This is not just a campus issue. Now, the business community will carry the torch.
"Great work has been done, but much work is left to do," he added. "Taking on an emotional issue like this is not easy, but it''s the right thing to do."
"This institution will find its history carries it forward," said Blake Wilson, CEO and president of the Mississippi Economic Council, noting the organization voted to "endorse a new name."
A graduate of MUW, 4-County Electric Power Association CEO Allegra Brigham, who also serves as the president of the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link board of trustees, recalled beginning her college career 44 years ago.
"The school is progressive; it''s keeping up with the times," she said. "My university also reflects the state of Mississippi, which includes male students."
"Since (her) time" as a student, changes at MUW have "enriched it, enhanced it and enlightened" the school, she noted.
"I know the name change will be difficult for some to accept, but the world has changed," she said, explaining one of her daughters declined an enrollment opportunity because the school is "perceived to be a women''s college." "This decision (to change the name) was too important to be based on emotion and nostalgia. It had to be made with facts and a plan for the future."
The university has admitted men since 1983, and studies commissioned by the school have shown male students are reluctant to attend the school with its current name. The school enrolled about 2,400 students last fall, with 16 percent of them male. The IHL has said the school could handle up to 4,500 students.
hk commented at 8/10/2009 12:27:00 PM:
great--poor people that work there--they will spend their day spelling that name to others!
Jamie commented at 8/10/2009 12:34:00 PM:
Wow - and here I was thinking that the job of a newspaper was to report the news, not give a completely one-sided account of an event/issue....
I am not as opposed now as I once was to a name change, but let's be realistic.....if the W wants to survive, as Mayor Ross put it, Dr. Limbert needs to face facts. Like the fact that the W has no real marketing campaign in the first place. The Admissions office has no training program for recruiters, who are the only link to our survival. If increasing the student population was of any real importance to Limbert, certainly she would focus on selling the University and treating it more like a business! Not completely re-brand it when funds are so tight - that kind of strategy is risky and expensive.
Like I said, I'm not completely opposed to the idea as I once was, but if Limbert plans on making it a success I really hope that she doesn't half-way (nice way of saying it) execute it.
Leeroy Jenkins commented at 8/10/2009 1:00:00 PM:
Probably the worst decision in the history of The "W" right up there with eliminating the athletic programs.
Rebrand/Don''t Rename commented at 8/10/2009 1:59:00 PM:
Reneau was a remarkable woman - and renaming MUW Reneau University is a terrible idea!
A name change - to any name - is not the best use of limited public and donor funds. It is very costly; at least $300,000 has been spent so far according to a reliable source, with no indication as to what the overall costs will be. At a time when scholarships aren't being fully funded, important programs are being cut and the entire nation is in an economic crisis, this is not the time for such a costly venture with no guarantees of success.
A name change abandons all of the good will and name recognition build up over 90 years of operation with essentially the same name; MUW since 1974 and MSCW from 1920 up until that time. AT&T hasn't changed its name and it certainly has progressed beyond being a telephone and telegraph company.
MUW can be effectively and successfully marketed in a "unisex" manner simply by promoting it using the long-time and popular nickname "The W." The University of Mississippi does this already with "Ole Miss."
The administration should embrace MUW's history and traditions and rebuild its relationship with The W's most loyal supporters, directing limited and precious resources to where they can achieve the greatest return on investment - recruiting and retaining students.
Don't re-name MUW, rather re-brand it through an effective and contemporary identity campaign letting today's students know all it has to offer. The W - now that is a name I can endorse!
janie miller commented at 8/10/2009 3:19:00 PM:
Hooray for the name change! I grew up within a stones throw of the W (60 years ago) but couldn't attend because of the color of my skin. With all races and men attending; and now with a name that isn't one-sided; I can see beyond the 21st century for RENEAU. Congratulations!!
walumnae commented at 8/10/2009 3:53:00 PM:
What a bitter, pathetic group of alumni. How you waste this much time and energy on such an archaic name is sad - get a life, get a hobby, better yet, get a job and stop wasting your time on this issue. No self respecting man wants a diploma from a University for Women. If the name of the university were, "Mississippi University for Men" it would have been changed years ago.
If you want to argue tradition, then let's return to the original name, "The Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls of Mississippi." That would allow the W to return to its racist tradition instead of the current sexist tradition.
Find something productive to do with your time. Quit trying to sell your Jim Jones purple Kool-Aid on the deck of the University for Women Titanic. That ship has sailed. Let the name die a graceful death.
You can all bake a covered dish and attend the funeral.
Leeroy Jenkins commented at 8/10/2009 4:01:00 PM:
walumnae - we saw your post the first time. It still doesn't make any sense.
Dave commented at 8/10/2009 4:38:00 PM:
Leeroy, what part of Walumnae's post do you not get? It's an accurate account of the current situation. The post makes perfect sense and should be easy to understand.
Proud W Alumna commented at 8/10/2009 5:27:00 PM:
Dave, what part of Walumnae's post did YOU get? It's not accurate; it's vitriolic, rude, misogynistic (bake a dish? Really?), and shows a complete ignorance of the issues behind the proposed name change for the university. The alumni who oppose the name change are not "bitter," but they sure seem better informed than Walumnae. No "self-respecting man want a diploma from a University for Women?" Way to crudely dismiss the hundreds of men who worked damn hard for those MUW-labeled diplomas. And if you have such an amazingly busy, fulfilling life, then why do you feel the need to take time out of your oh-so-important schedule to ridicule those who DO care about this issue? Grow up.
At-last commented at 8/10/2009 6:05:00 PM:
At last, finally someone in Columbus made the right decision. Reneau University- a name with some real charm. The graduates will be proud to say I graduated from Reneau, just like they have with the "W" but this time the degree wont be linked to a Womens College it will be accredited as a Stately mame of a University! "Atlast, atlast the "W" is free atlast!" Open to men, women, and all races.
Reneau====Congratulations on the New Name!
Dave commented at 8/10/2009 7:15:00 PM:
Response to Proud W Aluma: Sounds like you need to grow up. You "had" a bias name as part of a state university (which means my tax dollars help finance) and you thought that was a good idea. Flordia State University was an all women's college at one time too, but they changed the name over 40 years ago. Better late than never. If you and the folks who supported the bias name don't like it, don't donate your money to the school. Better yet, form a private school, given any bias name you like, and pay for it yourselves.
Drew commented at 8/10/2009 8:34:00 PM:
The proposed name definitely sounds like a name for a PRIVATE university. The personnel involved in recommending Reneau must have discussed this implication; no idea how far it was argued. It is not clear how the new name Reneau would dramatically change the fate of the university to become a better financed institution. One thing for sure is that there are more chances that the new name when approved will be implying it is not a women's college unlike the name "W" has been doing. The future of the university even with the proposed name remains to be unpredictable.
wgrad76 commented at 8/10/2009 8:44:00 PM:
Jamie--I believe that the criticism of the Admissions office is a bit unfair. I happen to know a former admissions recruiter that worked at MUW not very long ago at all that went through a rigorous training period when she started working at the university to learn as much as possible to be effective in her position. They also constantly learned things about MUW throughout the year to share with students. The truth of it is, none of us truly know what the admissions recruiters go through on a daily basis as they share information about MUW with students and their families. I can imagine that it can be a very daunting task at MUW and at any other institution in the country!
Also, everyone is fully entitled to their opinion on this issue but let us remain civil towards one another and respect each others opinions. It is a very sad thing to see alumni fighting amongst themselves over this. It is time for us to stop the name calling and negativity about our beloved institution and rally behind it so that it will still be around in the future. After all, that is the one thing that everybody on both sides of this name change issue have in common--their love of the institution.
Male MUW Alumn commented at 8/10/2009 9:29:00 PM:
I am a male and I have a bachelor and a master's degree from MUW and I am proud to have it, You must not have a degree from any institution or college.... talk what you know before you speak for the SMART Men who have their degrees from MUW... start working on yours and maybe you won't be so ignorant.
tom commented at 8/11/2009 4:12:00 AM:
As long as I'm alive it will always be MSCW! With the present leadership they should have renamed it Toilet University because that is exactly where it is headed.
The Drama Must End commented at 8/11/2009 12:26:00 PM:
As a W Grad, I hang my head low as I watch fellow graduates continue to beat a dead horse. This decision is not ours to make and we must now get behind the school and help move it forward not continue to be an anchor that holds it back.
I respect the tradition but in the name of PR for the school...stop trying to make the name change a negative and find a way to embrace it. It will happen with or without your support and at some point you must move forward. Let's try to get our wonderful school good press not bad and show a united front to the world.
My momma used to say. "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all."
Reneau University Owls commented at 8/11/2009 12:27:00 PM:
2013 Football scores
Renau University Owls 13
Misssippi State Bulldogs 12
spillthebeans commented at 8/11/2009 2:05:00 PM:
walumnae drives an 18-wheeler for a living and is a W graduate.
I think you need to just go drive your 18-wheeler and quit putting down the university where you graduated from. It's not their fault that you didn't apply yourself while you were in college and because of that you were not employee material, other than driving a big rig.
Give it up Scrappydog .. you need to quit running around the internet with your "W hate" crap.
iamonboardwithit commented at 8/11/2009 2:23:00 PM:
To: Male MUW Alumn
I you are a male nurse and you got a W degree I can see where you would not mind it. But most men are manly and do not want a degree with a feminine overtone.
If the name is changed you will see more male students not only taking two are three years but actually finishing their degree here in Columbus instead of transferring credit to MSU just so they will not have a sissy looking diploma
George commented at 8/11/2009 2:52:00 PM:
The name change is necessary but I sure would have stuck with Waverely or Welty. I guess we can call it RU now. RU attending RU? Not bad.
You folks who want to keep the "for women" are not being realistic. Not in this century.
sandyb commented at 8/11/2009 3:54:00 PM:
It's about time you took a stand for Our University, ALL of ours! And Reneau couldn't have been better! Whom, or what, else could equal our founder? I know a lot of the alums would like to see their name somewhere in it...another past female graduate...what about our future graduates? From all of us who are still trying to get a degree from there, male and female, we Thank You for joining this century, and offering a more likely promising future for an unbiased institution of higher learning. From a white female nontraditional student, I praise your determination and thanks for not giving in to the alumni! Oh yeah, for a male student who had the courage to try and make a difference for all male students in every way he could while he was alive, I'm also sure he would agree, IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nicki Wright commented at 8/11/2009 6:36:00 PM:
Our son and three of his high school comrades will begin their freshmen classes tomorrow. Initially puzzled at receiving literature from a women's college, their research revealed that MUW has a very positive and exciting reputation. Teachers all across the board speak very highly of the school. Research also shows that men have been graduating from MUW for several years. Life is about change, it is time to make this change. I for one will not miss the double takes when I tell someone where my son attends college. Reneau University, we support you, in more ways than one!
Enough is Enough commented at 8/12/2009 8:01:00 PM:
If the state government and the IHL is so concerned about duplicate programs, why on earth did they JUST APPROVE EMCC starting a duplicate 2 year nursing program right up the highway from Mississippi University for Women? Mississippi University for Women offers a two year, four year, and Master's Degree in Nursing. Why would EMCC get approval for another two year program only 45 minutes away? It seems rather foolish to say that MSU and MUW have dulicate programs so they should be merged, but we will fund EMCC duplicating one of the top programs in the state in that programs own back yard.
I also find it very interesting that many of the larger universities have spent loads on money on DORMS, while complaining about not having enough funds to actually educate their students.
If you took every dime from MUW and split it among the major Mississippi Universities, it still wouldn't solve their problems. If you merge MUW with MSU, it still wouldn't automatically mean that MSU would gain all of their students. It also doesn't mean that the campus would survive in Columbus. There is talk of USM closing one of their branch campuses. Who can guarantee that the same thing wouldn't happen in Columbus? We may end up with Mississippi State University in Columbus for about 5 years and then an empty campus shortly after. Who would that benefit?
Leeroy Jenkins commented at 8/13/2009 2:55:00 PM:
Because EMCC is cheap and an alternate solution to those who can't afford a 4 yr school.
J commented at 8/14/2009 4:40:00 PM:
The thing is, it's not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination - no matter what some grand announcement might lead you to believe. Ultimately the IHL and the legislature is going to have to approve it and not just in a a "hey I like the name" sort of way - they are going to have to figure out how to pay for this change. Is it going to take losing programs, personnel and other measures to pay for what some people might consider a simple matter? They are doing this at a time when it is more than assured they are going to be having less instead of more money coming to them based on the new formulas. Changing a name of a business or university will take a lot of money. It is money that the university and the state does not have at this time during this economy. In all of their announcements they did not present just how the school is going to pay for this, how it is going to be marketed with the new name, or exactly how this is going to more than double enrollment. I think the IHL and the legislature should require this information to be available to them before they make a decision.
anonymous commented at 8/15/2009 2:17:00 PM:
The name change is the worst idea for the university. If people don't remember the name now (i.e. the university's near refusal to market it), they are not going to remember it as Reneau.
amy commented at 8/15/2009 6:35:00 PM:
Reneau is not a good name--sounds like a rehab facility! Keep The W as MUW and change presidents! That would solve the problem. I know 2 dozen men who have graduated from The W--and THEY DO NOT CARE about a name change! And what's wrong with small universities? Where students know each other and the professors know them?
95WGrad commented at 8/17/2009 11:07:00 PM:
Forbes just ran an article on the relevancy of single-sex education. Even as a coed institution, the W with its 80/20 split still possesses many of the qualities that make single-sex education relevant. The W was the first public institution for women in the country - THE FIRST. MISSISSIPPI HAD THE FIRST. The IHL saw fit to leave the historic mission in place when The W became coed. The current admin is still touting the mission, but insists it must change the name. It's a contradiction. Either we embrace our heritage and legacy and continue to provide excellent educational opportunities for women or we cease to maintain our mission. Florida State did change 40 years ago, so did Georgia College, and both have remained viable universities. But neither have maintained their women's mission. The disagreement isn't about name alone. It's about mission. The mission is being downplayed, ignored. The mission is being denigrated. The mission is the real victim here - it's losing it's identity.
bob smith commented at 8/20/2009 10:11:00 PM:
Thank God that is over. Now we can can start dreaming up the name for the new sport plex in Columbus. I think it should be named the "Billy James Kicker Complex". He rocks.........
RC-MUW Alum commented at 9/8/2009 12:18:00 AM:
Men started going back when I was getting my degree at the W. It's no longer a university solely for women, and the name is in honor of a fine role-model.
Actually, I think Reneau University sounds rather hoity-toity. Nice choice. =)
Whatever (within reason) it takes to keep this fine institution alive and offering first-class education to all who can attend - is OK with me.
Key2009 commented at 10/10/2009 12:26:00 PM:
I am a current student at MUW and I hold my head up high when I say that I am a senior their. Anyone who has attended this university knows that it is no small feat to make it through the W's curriculum. I am emotionally attached to the current name of the university, and so are many of my fellow classmates, I am looking forward to my diploma reading "W". I am happy that the administrators are trying to increase the university's appeal to all sexes and races, but changing the name and keeping the same old COMMON practices that we deal with on campus everyday, is an even more pressing topic. Reroute some of this money that lobbyist are spending trying to change the university's name, and increase the parking for students on campus. Maybe attendance would pick up if parking citations would decrease!