New name selected for college

Colorado Mesa University OK'd

Mesa State College could be Colorado Mesa University as soon as this fall.

The school’s board of trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend changing the college’s name after narrowing its choices to Colorado Mesa University and Mesa University of Colorado. The suggested name has to be approved by the Legislature, which will end its current session in two weeks or less, and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to make the new moniker official.

Rick Taggart, the school’s executive director of marketing and recruitment, said he tentatively expects the new name to become an official part of school culture in September if it is approved at the Capitol. The changeover date may be a single day but is more likely to take place over a two-week period, he said.

Changes such as sending out recruitment materials to prospective students with Colorado Mesa University on the cover or having the school website say Colorado Mesa will take place sooner than changes that may take months or years, such as replacing internal stationery or changing signs, something that will be done one sign at a time, Taggart said.

“Our focus will be on external communication first and foremost,” he said.

The logos for Colorado Mesa University and its abbreviation, CMU, are expected to be unveiled between July 1 and 15, Taggart said. Primary colors and the Maverick mascot will remain, but new secondary colors may be revealed in July.

Taggart and a team of colleagues, students and faculty will help implement various aspects of the name change. Interviews will begin Friday to hire two interns to help with the name change.

Taggart said a budget detailing costs associated with the name change has not been finalized because the name was unknown until Tuesday. The budget will stay in the six-figure range discussed by Mesa State President Tim Foster in March. The budget for a new name with Mesa in it is less than one without Mesa in the title, Taggart said, because items such as football helmets that say Mesa instead of Mesa State will not need to be replaced.

A survey of 4,296 students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members listed Colorado Mesa as the fourth most popular choice for a new name and Mesa University of Colorado as the eighth most popular choice.

Among the top eight, only those two names met three criteria for making a name change worthwhile, according to Taggart. Those three criteria were that the new name state where in the country the school is located, that the name have strong branding potential so people wouldn’t confuse it with other schools, and that the name keep Mesa to stay consistent with the school’s heritage.

“The only reason I put Mesa University of Colorado second is because that acronym, MUC, scared me to death,” Taggart told trustees.

The board agreed and selected Colorado Mesa over names such as University of Western Colorado and Mesa State University, which placed first in the naming survey. Trustee Lorenzo Marquez said having Western in the name could create some confusion with Western State College in Gunnison.

“We do need to be a good neighbor,” Marquez said.

Student Trustee Ryan Hendershot said he often has to explain that Mesa State College is in Colorado when he’s out of state, and he worried students still would have to explain where the school is with a name like Mesa State University. Faculty Trustee Monte Atkinson said keeping Mesa in the school’s name is important to anyone associated with the institution, but he believes it’s equally important to add Colorado to the title.

“For me, putting Colorado at the beginning of the name makes it a Colorado institution. We’re not just another institution in the state now,” he said.

Students informed of the proposed name Tuesday had mixed feelings about the selection of Colorado Mesa University. Senior Forrest McCleary, 23, who will return for another year at the school this fall, said he likes that Mesa is still part of the name.

“We have Grand Mesa (Residence) Hall and it’s all about the mesa and the outdoors here. It will just take some getting used to,” he said.

Junior John Pomaski, 20, said he wishes the trustees had left the name at Mesa University.

“Colorado just throws it off,” he said.

First-year student Taylor Smith, 19, said she was rooting for Mesa State University. She called the choice of Colorado Mesa “disappointing,” but she is happy the school plans to switch from a college to a university.

“Being a university is going to attract so many students. There’s going to be dorms everywhere,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Christina Lopez, a first-year student who was wearing a Mesa State College hoodie Tuesday, said the initials CMU “sound cool,” but she’s still not sure she likes Colorado Mesa University better than her first choice of University of Western Colorado.

“Colorado Mesa doesn’t sound too legitimate,” Lopez said.



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