January 22, 2010 11:20:00 AM
Say it ain''t so, Kelvin.
It appears that the chairman of the House Universities and Colleges Committee, Rep. Kelvin Buck, has decided to quash any bill recommending a name change for Mississippi University for Women -- a school that has been admitting men since 1982 and sees the name as a hindrance to building enough enrollment to survive and thrive.
A few bills have been introduced with regard to a name change -- some ridiculous, such as Plantersville Rep. Steve Holland''s bill mandating the school be called "Mississippi University for Women and Men." Buck thankfully will ignore that one, but also apparently won''t entertain the bill that calls for the proper plan of action: Hernando Sen. Doug Davis'' bill that would put any decision on a name change in the hands of the board of the state Institutions of Higher Learning, the group that should be making this decision to begin with.
Buck has said that any bill that manages to make it out of the Senate won''t be considered in the House, either.
So, the name change is dead -- after years of study by The W, including focus groups, committees of citizens, alumni and staff, and work by an independent consultant firm.
The W will continue to be known as such. This is seen as a victory by those who support the old name, not-so-affectionately known as the "blue hairs," who fight for tradition even as the university''s very survival is on the line.
We shouldn''t blame Kelvin Buck, however. Those who aren''t blinded by tradition, and see the university''s death knell sounding, can only blame Columbus'' leadership in the state House of Representatives -- Gary Chism, Jeff Smith and Esther Harrison. While they whisper in back rooms that a name change is essential to the school''s survival, none will publicly support it -- even the bill that gives them a political "out," the one that puts the decision in the hands of the College Board. We find their behavior, frankly, beyond disappointing. It''s maddening.
If they won''t step up for their hometown school, why should Buck or anyone else?
Maybe these so-called "leaders" realize that it may be too late for The W anyway. With the school facing a budget cut of 25 percent or more over the next couple years, it may not be able to survive as an independent institution anyway.
We hope that isn''t the case. But with the Senate ready to merge The W or fund it out of existence, and our own delegation in the House unwilling or unable to work for our university''s survival, hope is difficult to muster.
soontograd commented at 1/23/2010 10:54:00 AM:
I'm one of those who is quite glad to see the name change dead, oh and at 22, far from "blue hair status. My reasoning lies more along the lines that the proposed name does nothing to help, and would cost money in at time where every penny counts. Focusing on retention of students is a far better plan, and the reasons students leave have nothing to do with the name and everything to do with how the school, with dwindling class offerings is being run. Turn the name change money into an extra professor or twos salary and more good will be done.
And for the doubters who want to see the "Women" designation go away,. Texas Women's University has grown and prospered far beyond the majority of schools in our state.
Instead of focusing on the name, lets focus on the funding formula that seeks to turn every school into a high enrollment school. Not every student especially those from rural areas, seeks to go to a large institution, where they're just a face in a sea of thousands. Quantity of students is not important as the quality of the education and experience the W offers. (Just see how many nationally ranked lists the W is on if you doubt quality).
Mike Longton commented at 1/23/2010 12:29:00 PM:
RE Our View: MUW name change appears to be dead, at least for now
The opinion expressed in the Commercial Dispatch on Friday places its emphasis in the wrong place. I do not feel that the name change is the important issue right now. It is the very survival of the university and the procurement of the funding needed that Kelvin Buck, all state legislators, house representatives, and supporters of MUW should be focusing on right now. While I do favor an eventual name change, I think that this issue MUST take a backseat due to the immediate financial needs of the W. And, despite fears and some predictions to the contrary, it is my strong opinion that MUW will survive this latest crisis as it always has in the past, and it will emerge to a brighter and stronger future.
T. Michael Longton, PhD
Associate Professor of Spanish
MUW, Columbus, MS
Avery Insinger commented at 1/29/2010 7:54:00 PM:
Gary Chism, Jeff Smith and Esther Harrison have simply done what some national politicians have failed, are failing and will continue failing to do ... listen to the majority of the people and do their will.
And, it's not what you want or think is best, Mr. Newspaper Editor.
Can you say, "Scott Brown?"
1. Slimantics: The tragic sadness of 'Me, too' LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Leonard Pitts: Making people uncomfortable is the point NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Connie Schultz: 'He didn't even remember his name' NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Our View: A weekend chock full of options DISPATCH EDITORIALS