The Leader editorial board is divided on this issue. Check out our pros and cons for changing the name.
Pro (Students: 62%, Alumni: 31%)
Elmhurst College should change its name to University. Whether it is Elmhurst University, or University of Elmhurst, it is a decision that will positively impact the school.
Regardless of the facilities a school offers, regardless of the employment rates of graduates, the name of a school will create a first impression of a school. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be that universities are the prestigious and good schools, and colleges are schools that are lacking.
To make matters worse, in other countries, universities are four-year degree-offering institutions, and colleges are schools more akin to community colleges. There is nothing wrong with a community college setting, but the word “college” has little international appeal, which is a main argument presented by President VanAken.
Even domestic students and faculty at other American schools mistake EC to be a community college or a commuter college (no dorms).
Why should EC suffer at the hands of misconceptions? If EC is possibly compromising its enrollment from domestic and international students, why should the BOT not vote in favor a possible solution?
What makes these misconceptions more ridiculous and more damaging to EC specifically is the fact that EC already is a university, according to the Carnegie Foundation’s classification system.
Calling ourselves a college is not only a possible hindrance to enrollment but simply inaccurate. It is not logically sound.
Furthermore, the question to change the EC’s name to university has been an age-old discussion under every president. This question now seems inevitable with already being classified as a university and large campus support, especially from students. It is now or never.
BOT should make the decision to change EC’s name to University, and we should embrace this change to further the institution.
CON (Students: 38%, Alumni: 69%)
Elmhurst College should not be changing its name. Our college reputation has not hurt us and is a part of who we are. We have been a college for nearly 150 years; it just would not be right to go into that anniversary not as “Elmhurst College.”
It seems strange that the school is making a push for increased enrollment, specifically among our international population, when we are having few issues with enrollment.
The school is observing a period of record breaking enrollment rates with the freshman class being the largest and most diverse in EC’s history. We cannot necessarily attribute this increased enrollment to the name, but the “Elmhurst College” brand has appeal, and to change that could put that at risk.
Why jeopardize who we are for the sake of a population of students who do not yet attend this institution?
One must consider the cost of rebranding. Although there is no official estimates, one can assume that the cost of reissuing diplomas to all graduates and rebranding all signage and merchandise will be a lot more than a slice of pizza.
EC has an identity, and that identity is as a college. People came here for a reason; to change that would be to disregard what many people found appealing about EC in the first place, especially when they are left with the bill.
In the same way people prejudge universities as better institutions on the basis of their name, many assume colleges to be smaller, more comfortable environments where creating deeper relationships and getting around is much easier.
Whether or not it is true is beside the point, when high schoolers apply, the name is the first thing they see, and if those looking for a smaller and calmer environment, a university can be an instant turn off.
All stakeholders in EC, especially the BOT, have to look at why they invested in the first place. A name is what represents the very core of a schools identity, and ask if changing that for the sake of one or two stakeholders is worth compromising that.