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Around the Columns

Reclaiming the name

name change

To highlight its flagship role, Mizzou proposes to restore its name to the University of Missouri and drop the “–Columbia” regional designation. This pillar at Eighth and Elm streets puts a Latin twist on the topic. Photo by Rob Hill.

What’s in a name? The recognition of Mizzou’s unique role as Missouri’s public flagship university, says Chancellor Brady Deaton. At the urging of student, alumni and donor groups, Deaton has proposed that the University of Missouri­–Columbia drop the “–Columbia” from its title and restore the name by which it was known for its first 124 years.

Before institutions in Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis were brought under the University of Missouri System umbrella in 1963, Mizzou was the University of Missouri. Proponents of the name restoration initiative argue that it would be a way to attract more outside research funding, recruit top students and faculty, and clarify MU’s flagship status.

The name restoration move has caused some grumbling at other UM System institutions, but Deaton points out that it is consistent with recent name changes by other Missouri public universities in Springfield, Warrensburg and Kirksville. In January 2008, UM–Rolla will become Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The “–Columbia” designation leads some to believe that MU is a regional institution and to overlook its national prominence, Deaton says. “Including Columbia in our name simply adds a communication barrier. There really should be no question that this campus is the flagship, and that we serve the entire state.”

In fact, MU is the state’s only public member of the Association of American Universities, a group of the nation’s premier research institutions. It also is Missouri’s only public university designated as a “comprehensive doctoral with medical/veterinary” (formerly Research I) institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

There is only one flagship university in the state,” Deaton says, “and that is this one.”