August 11, 2009 10:23:00 AM
Two people received standing ovations at MUW''s convocation Monday morning, both of them well deserved: Sallie Reneau and Claudia Limbert.
Most know by now that Reneau is the 19th century activist, who was instrumental in the creation of the school that became Mississippi University for Women. Reneau''s life was one of public service, both in her advocacy of education for women and her efforts as a nurse. She died in 1878 while tending victims of a yellow fever epidemic.
Reneau University is the name Limbert put forth Monday for consideration by the board of the state Institutions of Higher Learning and then the Legislature. We think it''s the perfect choice and hope it sails through to acceptance.
The MUW president deserves praise for her leadership during the 22-month-long name change process that has involved literally thousands of people and hundreds of meetings. Throughout that undertaking -- maybe ordeal is a more accurate word -- Limbert has endured all manner of criticism for all manner of transgressions, real and imagined: She was going to ram Welty U. through; committee members were hand-picked according to their ideology; the new name was solely her choice.
Hogwash. Through a protracted and exacting process, the names Waverley, Welty and Reneau bubbled to the surface. Though she attended The W for two years in the 1920s, Welty''s connections to the school were tenuous. When her family vetoed the idea of using the Welty name, Waverley and Reneau remained. Other than beginning with the letter "W," Waverley has no relevance for the school. The choice seemed obvious.
Support for change has snowballed as more have come to realize name change is a matter of survival for MUW. That message was repeated like a mantra by Monday''s convocation speakers.
4-County CEO and MUW alumna Allegra Brigham noted that 97 percent of college age women would not consider attending a women''s school. By keeping "for Women" The W is limiting itself to a pool of 3 percent of college-bound female high school students; no doubt the percentage of males who would consider a women''s college is even less.
Times change and times have changed for MUW. In a conversation after Monday''s event IHL Board President Scott Ross offered a dire forecast: "It''s a fight now, but If we don''t do something, 10 years from now there''ll be nothing to fight over."
Limbert has recognized this and to her credit, she has undertaken what her predecessors were unwilling to do. As IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds said Monday, "Dr. Limbert, I appreciate your courage, your campus'' courage."
So do we. And let us hope the Legislature when asked to vote on name change for MUW will find the same courage Limbert has shown.
Hogwash Is Right commented at 8/11/2009 12:57:00 PM:
Hogwash is a good term to use for the farce that you choose to consider a "protracted and exacting process." Protracted, yes. Exacting, no. Unless you consider how exactly it was all contrived to "arrive" at the foregone conclusion that MUW's name "must" change.
However, that process actually was undertaken with an absolute lack of validity and reliability and a total disregard to accepted research standards and protocols. Anyone with any credentials in market research would blanch at having to accept such garbage in/garbage out as "fact" and "study."
If a name change is such a good idea, why not use some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted in this sham to undertake a true market study and prove it with quantitative data? No business in operation for more than 30 years with the same name would simply opt to change it on the gut feeling that it is the right idea. AT&T is no longer a telegraph company and Coca Cola is no longer made with coca extract (cocaine).
A name change is costly at a time when resources are scarce, it eradicates the goodwill and name recognition fostered over decades of success, and it is not necessary. By simply marketing MUW with its gender neutral nickname "The W." It worked for George W. Bush, it works for Ole Miss, it works for KFC and AT&T.
Use the money to travel all over state to spread a united message and to establish a recruiting program based on unique selling features targeted using demographic market segmentation rather than geographic expediency.
Times change, but a women's mission is still viable and the competition within that product category is certainly less demanding than to compete with ALL universities and colleges everywhere.
I too am counting on the Legislature to be courageous and to continue to support educational diversity and a state institution with a mission to offer educational and leadership opportunities for women.
Renaird commented at 8/12/2009 7:03:00 PM:
Where does the the diversity start when you want to solely stick with a name that does not represent the entire mission of the W. This should have been done years ago. It amazing that many women are willing to change their name after marriage, but efforts are being made to help the university grow and we want to hold onto what may be what a minority of folks want. This is the old south thinking and the very reason Mississippi is one of the top 5 poorest states in the nation. And we wonder why our kids move out of the state.We don't want to progress, instead we rather wait until its too late and then spend the bank to fix it. Folks the W has the chance to grow and be a major player in the future of the State of Mississippi. Lets not be backwards thinking and ruin the W's chance to improve as well as possible compete with State and OLE Miss.We have a wonderful school and an outstanding faculty who have continued to make history churning out some wonderful leaders. Lets give them a chance to be even better and also gain some added diversity from others who are skeptical about coming to the W because of its name.
bob johnson commented at 8/16/2009 4:48:00 AM:
this is a joke of course,ovation for what? claudia ought to be run out of town.
14/88 commented at 8/17/2009 7:44:00 AM:
Who cares?....really...a degree is a degree, it's just sad people who earn them can't find work in the current job market.
1. Voice of the people: Glenn Lautzenhiser LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
2. Our View: City needs consistent approach to festival beer sales DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Our View: Important work done with little fanfare DISPATCH EDITORIALS
5. Froma Harrop: Who are these outlaw bikers? NATIONAL COLUMNS