Thursday, September 28, 2006


College Names I Don't Understand

California University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Miami University (in Ohio)

Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (a backslash?)

Washington University (in St. Louis)

University of Phoenix (anywhere except Phoenix)

East Carolina University (there's no such state as East Carolina)

Slippery Rock

Practical Bible College

Beaver College (finally changed to Arcadia)

SUNYIT (admittedly, the entire SUNY system has lousy names, but that's especially ugly)

Hobart and William Smith (Huh? Shouldn't Hobart get his first name in there, too?)

Hamburger University (don't get me started)

Northwestern University (in Illinois. Illinois?)

Sewanee: The University of the South (pick one)

Bowling Green

Community College of Vermont (huh? Isn't Vermont a state?)

Community College of Rhode Island (ditto)

Do you have a good one?

Aren't Hobart and William brothers?
Columbia University in the City of New York
On the Northwestern theme - I've always been amused by "Northwestern State University". Not "Northwestern State University of Some State", but simply "Northwestern State U". Is it in a northwestern state? Is it in the Northwest part of a state? If so, which state?

If you are are going to be a small state school, please give me the state (Western Kentucky), a town (Emporia State), or some indication of connection to a state (Truman State).
University of South Florida is really not all that far south in the state.
Florida International University. What does that mean?
Lots of these I get (as in, I get why they're here), but I have to ask... why do you think the names of all the SUNY colleges are lousy? Aren't they mostly named after *where* they are? SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Farmingdale, SUNY Geneseo, etc?
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. Didn't anyone consider the acronym?

Also, Western Maryland College, my alma mater, is not and never was in Western Maryland. They changed it to McDaniel College a few years back.
My alma mater, Ball State University. My dad made jokes like, "there is no state named Ball".
My husband went to HU (Hamburger University)....alas I never made it far enough up the management tree at McDonald's to attend.
Actually, it's Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.

Then, of course, there's the University of Indianapolis, which, despite its name, is a small Methodist college.
Okay, so geography and history aren't always well taught, or "understood." Many of these schools have their names rooted firmly in the geography (and thus naming) of the areas in which they reside. Others are named after founders, or benefactors. Not a surprise there.

The first two schools, California, and Indiana (Both of PA) are located in towns that had their names before the states did.

Miami University (founded 1809) was named after the Miami Nation (as is the Miami Valleyin the same region) As they are fond of saying, "Miami was a University when Florida was still Spanish."

Of course, as one of the anonymous posters mentioned, Western Maryland College (Whimsy, as we pronounce it!) recently changed their name. Rather than embrace their heritage as coming from the Western Maryland Railroad, it's first benefactor, they felt they needed a name that reflected that they were "A small liberal arts college committed to Excellence in Teaching." Yup. McDaniel says that... (HUH?)
The College of William and Mary. I would have thoght that after kicking the British out someone would have changed the name.

Bishop's University - that sounds fun! When you flunk out of Bishop's, if you are really lucky, you get to go to Redeemer University College.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. Didn't anyone consider the acronym?

OK, as the mother of a proud Pitt Panther (and as a primarily auditory learner, so saying is more salient than spelling), I have to say the acronym is a fine thing. [insert panther snarl for persuasive purposes]
Washington University never bothered me much, except that people always have to repeat after someone: "You mean Washington University in St. Louis?" Really, that's the best known Wash U in the country so it should be the default.
Okay, how about the late, lamented Dyke College? I have been told that this was a name change, rather than extinction. The college bookstore didn't understand for a long time why they kept getting orders for logo merch from all over the country. And then they did.
Sewanee: The University of the South (pick one)

They did. It is the University of the South. Sewanee is a nickname.

Or didn't you know that?
Oh, to the anonymous poster at the top: No, the actual name is now "Hobart and William Smith Colleges" (and the "s" at the end of Colleges is important.)

The answer to why John Hobart's first name is not listed is that the College always was Hobart College. William Smith College was always WSC.

For historical perspective, check out:
Well, Slippery Rock makes's in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. (Which I know because I went to a medieval-reenactment fair near there for many years.) Likewise, as Cassandra said, the SUNY campuses are named after their local towns.

Community College of Vermont makes sense, too, but in a different way. Vermont is a small, thinly populated state (about half a million people total, largest town has only 40K people in it), so it only supports about as many people as a standard-issue Eastern Seaboard county. So, you only need one community college, with a few branch campuses.
There used to be a Dunbarton College, whose unfortunate students suffered a lot of "Dunbarton students are dumb" jokes. The school went out of business in the 70s. Maybe if it had had a better name, they would have survived longer. The name didn't reveal much about its identity (a Catholic women's college.)

It was located on prime real estate in northwest DC, which the college sold to Howard University for their law school.
Doesn't Northwestern date back to an era when the Dakota Territory was west of Minnesota? Case Western Reserve, similar explanation (Ohio was once the "Western Reserve" of Connecticut before it occurred to somebody to create new states.)

"Ball State" refers to Mason jar and electric railway tycoon George Ball, who deeded a college to Indiana.
I always laugh at Stanford's official seal that says "Leland Stanford Junior University".

Junior University? Is that a step above junior college?
Miami University (founded 1809) was named after the Miami Nation (as is the Miami Valleyin the same region) As they are fond of saying, "Miami was a University when Florida was still Spanish."

This leads to the question of why in the world there's a town named Miami in Florida and if it has any connection to the Miami tribe. The answer is that it doesn't. The much younger town of Miami, Florida gets it name from the Tequesta tribe word Maymi, which may mean wide lake.

While there are many Midwestern towns and regions named after the Miamis, there are also places in Oklahoma with similar names, and those are connected. The US government forced the Miamis to leave their lands for Oklahoma, where they have a reservation. Some Miamis have moved back to the Indiana/Illinois/Ohio/Michigan area that they originally came from, but they don't have a reserveration there.
Oh and about the Community Colleges...

I would have thought that this dean, of all people, would point out that community colleges are more defined by their mission (2 year, etc) than by their local or regional "ownership." Perhaps some of the tension between the CC's and the 4 yr institutions would be alleviated if more states "owned" both.

Here's cheering for the day when all community colleges are part of a state CC network.
Add to the list: Transylvania University (why is this in Kentucky?), and Texas Woman's University (does only one woman attend this school?).
"Here's cheering for the day when all community colleges are part of a state CC network."


(i work for a wa state cc, and all of my experiences with doing things as a "system" has been teh suck.)
My favorite has always been the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which despite billing itself this way, abbreviating itself UIUC, and having as its URL, is nonetheless described by anyone who's spent any time there as being located in the metropolitan area of Champaign-Urbana. I sense extra-hyphenate rivalry.

And on the SUNYs: many of the larger institutions have moved toward separating themselves from the SUNY brand, including Binghamton University and, my fave, the University at Buffalo. Not of, but at.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is only 45 minutes or so from Baylor University. They are both Baptist schools, but are not affiliated. They were affiliated many, many years ago. Mary Hardin and her husband bailed out Baylor Female College during the 30's, so it was renamed for her. Locally, it's known as UMHB or "baby Baylor."
Indiana University - Purdue University at Indianapolis becomes even more fun when you realize that it was regularly referred to in the state higher ed admin circles as IUPUI (pronounced Oo-Ee-Poo-Ee).

O, and Dictyranger? You can't hide from your SCAdian connection now that you've revealed that tidbit on Dean Dad's blog.
Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science changed its name several years ago to Philadelphia University. Fine and all, since it's in Philadelphia, but, again, did no one look at the abbreviation this produces?
Truman state used to be Northeast Missouri State... or something like that. They changed a few years back.
To answer maggiemay, here's the list of Florida public universities:
* U of Fla
* U of N Fla
* U of S Fla
* U of W Fla
* U of Central Fla
* Fla State
* Fla A&M
(* Fla Tech is private)
* Fla Atlantic
* Fla International
* Fla Gulf Coast
* New Coll of Fla (Fla Coll was taken)
You can see what happened: nobody wanted a second-class name, and they ran out of compass directions. (Same phenomenon as the SUNYs: nobody wants to be a branch campus these days.)

Bonus points: Indiana's state CC system,
"Ivy Tech Community College."
Oo-ee Poo-ee? LOVE IT!

IUPUI must have the hardest-working cheerleaders in the business. "Gimme an I! Gimme an N! Gimme a D!" It just keeps going. "Gimme a Hyphen!"

Binghamton and Buffalo apparently agree with me on the SUNY naming system. It's just an ugly acronym.

The Professor needs to get over himself. Community colleges are, in fact, bound to their (our) host communities, and that shows in the different programs that different communities need. In my area, for example, the transfer program is HUGE, and we don't even run HVAC or auto repair. In some other areas, cc's are almost entirely vo-tech, with just a token helping of transfer. The mission depends on the community. The community is not simply an accident of geography.

That's why "Community College of Vermont" or "Ivy Tech cc" strikes me as odd. It's hard to be as responsive when the community is defined so broadly. Besides, state colleges are almost always four-year schools or comprehensive universities.

I'd forgotten about Transylvania U. Good one.
CCRI -- yes, having regional flexibility in a CC is important, as DD said. As some Texas farmers like to point out, though; our little state just is not that big. (The farm is the size of ...) I'm thankful that there isn't too much repetitive organizational bureaucracy in a state with 1200 square miles (30 miles E-W and 40 miles N-S) of raw power.

On the other hand, using the same metrics to evaluate all three public post-secondary schools (CCRI, RI College, Univ of RI) doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Research grant dollars are de-emphasized, for example. No, I'm not kidding; this is really done here...
Thanks for the notice, Dean. I must admit, I am not quite sure what I have to "get over" however...

While I understand different CC's have different missions, I don't see why that cannot occur inside a state system. If you look at Pennsylvania, the Penn State system (not to be confused with the "State of Pennsylvania" system) is comprised of 24 different campuses. Each campus has their own mission, and many of those are tied directly to the community they serve. It can be done. Yes, most of the campuses are now 4 year campuses. They weren't always that way. Some were two year lower division, some 2 year upper division with graduate programs. But each has their own mission, and yet is part of the larger system and can benefit from the economies of scale, and to some measure the benefit of name, that accrues with being part of Penn State.
IUPUI cheerleaders have a hard job? Please! We spell out the entire original name of the institution one letter at a time (The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Arts Letters and Sciences) and in front of one of the losing-ist Division I A football teams in the country. It's hard being a small, private, selective school in a football-mad state!
Ivy Tech was adapted from the shorthand for the school's original name, Indiana Vocational Technical College (I-V-Tech). Isn't English wonderful?
And Ivy Tech has many regional campuses, not to mention something like 70,000 students enrolled statewide this year.

UIUC is so called because the university was originally founded (and most of the campus is still technically located) in Urbana. Champaign, though around before the university was, was merely a blip of a railway station a couple of miles away and called West Urbana.
Transylvania U. is funny, but it is a very old school in this part of the country (est. 1780, which makes it among the first 20 colleges in the entire US). At that time, Lexington was truly "trans sylvania," i.e., across the woods, as is the area of Hungary & Romania also designated so. Have a little sense of history, people.
Midwestern State University

It is in north Texas.
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Composer Marvin Hamlisch loves the name Slippery Rock. I've sung in a choir comprised of college kids from around the Pittsburgh area for the past two years under his direction, and he always makes a point to discuss the absurdity of SRU's name! There's a Westminster College in NW Pennsylvania, near Erie I think, and there's a Westminster Choir College, part of Rider University. It'd be nice if they didn't share the name!
Antediluvian State in Topeka.
Dean Dad -- If this is the Practical Bible College in Johnson City, it has been renamed to Davis College. Which kind of shook things up a bit around town ;).

And yes, yes, yes on the SUNY names. Do you know how humiliating it is to say that your undergrad degree is from the University AT Buffalo? It sounds like you don't know the name of your own damn school! Upstate NYers usually follow along pretty well, but in my graduate department, I think everybody believes I'm trying to make it sound fancier.

But I can see why both Bingo & Buffalo wanted to change their names (although nobody in Binghamton refers to Bing U as anything other than SUNY or SUNY-B, while UB has been more successful in separating themselves from SUNY), especially since so many people seem to have trouble distinguishing UB from Buff State.
Union Institute and University -- headquartered in Cincinnati

What was the matter with Union Institute?
Miami University (or Miami (OH) as its referred to in the sports pages) is not a bizarre name. We were a university (1809) before Florida was a state. The Miami Indians were here in Ohio at the time; I believe the Florida city was named after a mispronunciation of a Sequoyah indian word. Sorry folks, we don't have the weather, glitz, or bling, but we were first. The town we are in (Oxford) is of course a stolen name.....
While most people call Washington University in St. Louis "Wash U", the "in St. Louis" part is actually part of the school's name, and therefore shouldn't be a dash or in parentheses or the worst in my opinion, "at St. Louis".
That's the nice thing about the one should ever be confused about where it is (even if people sometimes are).
How about:

Thomson River University (in BC) which until quite recently was called -- wait for it:

University College of the Carribou.

First of all: Is it a univeristy, or a college? (a BIG distinction in Canada).

And Why would Carribour need either one? To learn to be better heard animals, perhaps?
Weighing in late here---

Messiah College in PA is an odd one.

Geography, no. Founder, probably not. It does not leave to the imagination what the curriculum is about, though.
To answer Jason, my own institution (University of South Florida) is at least five hours' drive away from South Florida (if you're not speeding). But the other compass points were taken at the time, except for University of East Florida, which would have been ridiculous on the Gulf coast.
The best acronym-ed school has got to be the College Of Notre Dame of Baltimore.
Sewanee: University of the south

Sewanee is the name of the town before the university took over.

The town is still there. They are telling you that the university is in the town.

I know. I live there....
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Some measure the benefit of name, that accrues with being part of Penn State.
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It's hard being a small, private, selective school in a football-mad state!
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The college bookstore didn't understand for a long time why they kept getting orders for logo merch from all over the country.
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It was regularly referred to in the state higher ed admin circles as IUPUI (pronounced Oo-Ee-Poo-Ee).
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It was located on prime real estate in northwest DC, which the college sold to Howard University for their law school.
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The college bookstore didn't understand for a long time why they kept getting orders for logo merch from all over the country. And then they did.
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