EDITORIAL: Splitting the difference on ‘College’ vs. ‘University’

In The Leader’s last issue, a story titled “EC enrolls most new students in history” featured President VanAken acknowledging the open discussion of changing the name of Elmhurst College to either University of Elmhurst or Elmhurst University. The decision of whether to change the name of the college has split the editorial board of The Leader, and we have thus written a split editorial to present an argument for both sides.


Elmhurst College has been Elmhurst College since 1928 and in that long history, no administration has seen it fit to change the name of the school. 

We have gotten this far under the name of Elmhurst College, so what pressing matters could possibly be dire enough to prompt a change?

Changing the name of the College would not be a simple matter of changing the name on top of the Gates of Knowledge. It’s a process that would include changing the signage of literally everything on campus. 

Every single item, sign or piece of merchandise would have to be removed and rebranded to reflect the school’s new name. And that process is certainly not free.

Is spending money on changing signs and merchandise for literally everything related to the school something we as a campus feel comfortable doing? 

This is a school that can’t even provide proper air conditioning to its own residents and as a result has to allow them to sleep in the Frick Center when a heat wave hits. The comfort of the students that pay tens of thousands of dollars to live on campus should be placed above the frivolous need to rebrand. 

Aside from that, a change to the college’s name would likely affect nobody currently on this campus. A decision as drastic as changing the name of the school would require long periods of bureaucratic discussion and would likely take years. 

As a result, it is unlikely that anyone besides perhaps the current freshmen would even get the benefit of attending the University of Elmhurst. If the name did change, it would do nothing but leave the rest of the current student body with a degree from Elmhurst College, a college that would no longer exist. 

While many perceive the title of ‘University’ as being inherently more prestigious than that of ‘College’, this perception is misguided. In a world where schools like DeVry and Phoenix are granted the rank of ‘University,’ we can hardly say the rank holds any weight at all. The for-profit industry is one that has been federally investigated for fraud by the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission, and yet many of its schools still bear the title of ‘University.’

Not a soul would argue that EC is an inferior learning environment to these for-profit schools, so let’s not dwell so much on the perceived importance associated with being called a University.



Let’s be honest, ‘Elmhurst University’ has a nice ring to it. It comes of no surprise that a majority of the student body would be in support of taking the leap towards rebranding our college’s name. 

Perhaps it is due to the prestigious undertones of a university itself or simply because of the positive outcomes that can come out of having ‘Elmhurst University’ on one’s resume. Regardless, we can all agree that EC is fully qualified to deem itself a university. 

As an institution that offers graduate level courses and enrolls over three thousand degree seeking students, EC, by definition, is already a full fledged university. 

By 1994, the Carnegie Institute reclassified our college asa Master’s College and University. Thus, it only makes sense to take one step closer towards exhibiting this status by renaming the college to Elmhurst University or University of Elmhurst.

Much of the hesitance to commit to this change is due to the large investment necessary for rebranding. For years, many have argued that our resources should be refocused on more necessary changes. Still, the long term outcome of such an investment will likely benefit enrollment rates triple fold. We say this in light of other liberal arts colleges that have witnessed dramatic increases in enrollment. Among others, Aurora University, previously called Aurora College, serves as a prime example as a school that witnessed a 279 percent increase in enrollment, both domestically and internationally, following their name change. 

While most Americans refer to colleges and universities interchangeably, there is still aninherent bias that treats colleges and universities as separate entities. Often, universities are placed in much higher regard in terms of prestige. Such is the case in many countries abroad, in which prospective international students find more appeal in universities than in colleges. 

EC has always been known for its close knit community, one in which students and faculty are given a more intimate educational setting. However, changing these structures won’t necessarily be a bad thing. Instead, it will only further diversify our community that opens more room for diversity, inclusion and expansion. Such are the motives that make up EC’s core values. These changes should be welcomed with open arms as there is plenty of room for exciting opportunities for both students, faculty and EC as a collective whole.