April 11, 2009
The dithering about a name change for MUW continues to amaze me. It''s obvious that there is no strong support for any of the suggested names and I wonder if anyone could demonstrate that there is support for one of them greater than for the current name. I admire the members of the committee for their fortitude because no matter which name is chosen, it''s likely that only a minority will respond to it positively.
I have several questions that I think need to be answered for the MUW community and the public. These are mostly in regard to the stated goal of increasing enrollment through adding more male students. Would making the school fully coed be a negative for some prospective female students? What effect would more males have on conduct of classes, campus leadership positions, overall campus environment and traditions, available scholarships for females, or desire for expensive men''s intercollegiate athletic programs already canceled for females? What would be the uniqueness of a small newly named coed state college only weakly supported by the state?
Is the legislature likely to approve a private school name for a state college when all seven of the others have ''State'' or ''Mississippi" as part of their name? Would it be realistic to become a private coed college or would this require an impossibly huge endowment and much higher tuition? What effect will a name change and subsequent alteration of the school''s traditions and mission have on the willingness of alumni to continue supporting the school? How inclusive have the name-change deliberations been to include the most vested individuals involved: the alums and long-time faculty? How much will it cost and how long will it take to effectively publicize a newly-named school and how will these costs affect faculty and staff salaries and their retention and morale in economically difficult times? Has an objective cost-benefit analysis been done to take these and other factors into account?
All of the proposed names and the push for more men negate the 125 year history of the school with a mission to educate primarily women. To me, it would make more sense to keep the current name for historical and continuity reasons and instead of having the subtitle "for smart men too" add "A Coed University Historically for Women." That''s what it is and will be.