Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A University by any other name would smell as sweet

In all of the hoopla over Utah Valley State College becoming a university the thing that garners the most attention is what to call it when it happens. Utah Valley University is supposedly the working title that the administration and the legislature are working under now, but things could change. Recently, The Daily Herald ran an editorial calling for the name to honor UVSC's founder Wilson Sorensen.

While we sort of like the sound of Sorensen State University one problem might be that SSU sounds a lot like SUU (Southern Utah University). And for a school that has always had an identity crisis, not having its location in the name doesn't exactly put them on the map. But Sorenson State might still have a chance as one administator mentioned the possibility in passing last month.

Others have suggested Utah Valley State University or UVSU as a viable candidate, and keeping the shorthand Utah Valley State (a moniker that Bill Sederburg insisted on when he came to UVSC...going so far as to chip the word college off of signs around campus). One problem with the abbreviation UVS is that it is already used by the Utah Valley Symphony.

Still others claim that the school should honor its technical roots and go by Utah Tech (like Georgia Tech or Texas Tech). This actually sounds pretty cool and it is easy to see students calling it U-Tech. But an administrator told The Pipeline some time ago that they had investigated the other Techs and had found that in order to be called a Tech you need a certain ratio of technical degrees to regular degrees, something UVSC doesn't currently qualify for. It also ignores the very reason most believe the name change is happening anyways. People want "University" on their diploma. You could call it Utah Technical University, but then it starts to sound like a unaccredited private college like ITT or Devry. Besides is already taken by the Ulster Teacher's Union in Ireland.

Most who oppose the name Utah Valley University claim that that it is too location-specific, and that the school wants to be seen as a viable option from people outside Utah Valley. But Utah State University and The University of Utah, the two most general names, are already taken.

In the end it will be the State Legislature that will decide the name change, and you can count on legislators from Salt Lake, Ogden, Cedar City, and Logan protecting their turf. Most of them don't want to share "University" with UVSC in the first place. But if State Sen. John Valentine forces the issue and they are backed in a corner, look for the name game to be a big part of the negotiating table. In which case a dark horse like Sorensen State University might have a chance.

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