February 2, 2010 9:36:00 AM
If the actions of the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee are any indication, the Legislature won''t pursue a name change for Mississippi University for Women this session. A bill that would give the Institute for Higher Learning authority to rename the school and would likely result in a new gender-neutral name died for lack of a motion late Monday afternoon.
It''s a shame. While one might argue this isn''t the most propitious moment to make such a move, with the state budget in the condition it is and the school without a strong leader to shepherd the transition, the move is long overdue and needs to happen sooner rather than later.
The school has been admitting men since 1982; its "for women" moniker harkens back to a time long past and is an albatross in a day when the university needs to build enrollment and studies show a diminished interest in women''s colleges.
The most damaging message Monday''s inaction sends, however, is that the fate of The W remains in the clutches of a small group of alumnae who cling to a vision of the school that is long past and irrelevant today. That is not a healthy situation for any university.
Under these conditions, one cannot be optimistic the school can attract the charismatic and independent leader it needs to guide it in these difficult times. That is assuming a new leader will be sought.
There is strong interest in merging the school with nearby Mississippi State University. With Monday''s inaction, those prospects got better. As one official remarked, "You either change the name or merge with State, but the status quo is not an option."
IHL President Scott Ross told the committee Monday: "If there is no name change, The W will be a very different place in two years."
About the alumnae group fighting name change, another official whispered, "They''re going to love it to death."
We''re disappointed. We''re disappointed in our Legislative delegation, who with the exception of Sen. Terry Brown, were nowhere to be seen Monday. Rep. Gary Chism showed up briefly to shake hands and pose for pictures, but neither Chism, Jeff Smith or Ester Harrison sat in on the committee proceedings.
A new name isn''t going to fix all that ails The W. No one has suggested it will. But a new, gender-neutral name will send a powerful message -- that this is a dynamic university, one rich in tradition, yet one with the ability and desire to embrace present-day realities.
Our beloved university needs to survive and flourish as a free-standing school. For that to happen, we need dynamic leadership, unified support, effective marketing and a pinch or two of good luck. A new name will enhance chances of those things happening.
Loyal Daughter commented at 2/2/2010 1:32:00 PM:
It's over, at least for now. You aren't getting this name change you are willing to name-call and fact-spin for. And it was facts and plain old common sense, not emotion, that did this idea in. So the question now becomes whether YOU, Birney Imes, and the Columbus business and political leaders that suddenly woke up to get behind a name change will STAY involved and now do what they can to support MUW with the name it has. Will you now join with the alumni you love to scapegoat, as well as the new leadership that will soon be in place, to help do what has to be done to keep MUW viable? You say we love the W to death...I say that the leaders of Columbus have not appreciated and loved this jewel at all for some time, and need to start doing it now.
Stop being so quick to listen to the doom and gloom of a lame-duck president who didn't even care enough to be there to speak for her own agenda yesterday. Quit whining about what MUW is not, and start helping to sell the excellent, unique university your city have been fortunate to host since 1884.
JC commented at 2/2/2010 4:07:00 PM:
Along these same lines, it's high time stop calling State "the Bulldogs." They've been admitting humans since 1878.
Bubba Gump commented at 2/3/2010 9:17:00 AM:
You people just don't get it. The W is a finishing school for the old money crowd. It was where their darling little daughters could come get their liberal arts degree while they were waiting for the next group of single CAFB pilots to become available. It is a delusion clung to by a culture gone by and they are more than willing to crash it headlong into the ground for yet one more day of the delusion.
This same group, when the W finally dies from Mothering, will then blame the city for it.
bear commented at 2/3/2010 11:44:00 AM:
Bubba Gump finally said what should be said. Who cares about the W, these "independent women" are just looking for an Mrs., and a pass to the BX. Let the W fail, well, it already has.
George commented at 2/3/2010 1:44:00 PM:
The Legislature has spoken. The verdict: Close the university in Columbus. No merger, no name change, just let it die peacefully.
That is the bottom line kids. Keep squabbling over this stuff if you like, but realize that kind of behaviour only makes the real goal easier.
Dubya80 commented at 2/3/2010 4:38:00 PM:
"as well as the new leadership that will soon be in place"
Is the lack of a search for the "new leadership" something we should be concerned about Daughter? Just curious.
Joey commented at 2/4/2010 11:08:00 AM:
You have completely missed the point, and have YOUR facts incorrect. Birney/the editorial writer did not say "They're going to love it to death." That was in fact said by an official. Also, fact-spin? Really? The facts are clear that the state budget is in the crapper, therefore the school will see its share swirling the bowl as well. Stay involved? In my many years in Columbus as a student at MUW and later as an employee of MUW, there was always support from the business community. Could it have been better? Sure, but smart business owners know where their bread is buttered.
As an alum and former employee, I hate to see the shambles the school is in, from enrollment to the ridiculous leadership, to the infighting between alumni groups. But if everyone continues to pigeon-hole the school, then in a hole it will stay.
Here's an idea, if everyone has all this money and is willing to give, give, give to keep the school viable, make it a private college for women. Problem solved.
john robert commented at 2/4/2010 8:31:00 PM:
close it NOW and save me money.
MARV commented at 2/5/2010 9:06:00 AM:
START WITH THE "HEAD". NEW LEADERSHIP ! "NOW" !!
Bubba Gump commented at 2/6/2010 8:58:00 AM:
Word to your Moomaw. I bet that stings.
Anonymous commented at 2/19/2010 6:08:00 PM:
Nothing like adults squabbling over our fate, screaming that it should be shut down because of the views and opinions of people who no longer attend this school. Shame on those who snub their noses at girls who want to be independent. You all act like we go to college just so we can snatch up an unsuspecting boy as a husband, pop out a few babies, and call it a day. Why? Because these are the ideals that are expected of women in the South, and because this has -foundation- as a women's university you slap on a stereotype of either extreme feminism or women looking for means to an end.
I find it fascinating that this state seems to be all aquiver with trepidation of women with a college education. But by all means, excuse -me- for wanting to get a quality education instead of turning curtsies in a hoop skirt.
1. Possumhaw: Corncobs, critters and Catalpa Creek LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Tim Kalich: Open government is good government NATIONAL COLUMNS
3. Editorial Cartoon for 1-26-15 NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Voice of the people: Anne Freeze LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
5. Our View: Council should interview school board candidates in public DISPATCH EDITORIALS