MUW name change appears to be dead, at least for now

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.