Trustees tell college to move forward with name-change survey

The Mesa State College Board of Trustees on Wednesday directed college President Tim Foster and others examining a name change at the school to proceed with a survey asking alumni, students, faculty and staff which name they would like the college to adopt.

The college has more than 60 potential names and will send out a survey as soon as next week, asking people to mark whether they like or dislike names on a shortened list that will include 25 to 30 names.

The trustees will be given a list of five names based on that survey and will meet April 26 to decide which name, if any, should replace Mesa State College.

The college hosted focus groups with 400 people, hosted a telephone town hall Tuesday night during which 348 people were on the call at its peak, and to date have surveyed 1,299 students, 768 alumni, 211 faculty members and 139 staff members about their perceptions of a university and whether the college should become one.

The survey is open through Friday, so results are preliminary. So far, a majority of respondents agreed the college should consider becoming a university. More people agreed than disagreed the school should add a geographic location to its name, but that idea received a less enthusiastic response than the idea of switching out college for university.

Foster said geographic awareness for Mesa State is low in surrounding states. Seventy-seven percent of Coloradans know where the college is, but only 19 percent of Utah residents polled correctly identified it as a Colorado school. Eight percent of Californians correctly identified its location, as did just 2 percent of Texans polled.

There are some problems with adding a location to the name. Mesa State Executive Director of Marketing and Recruitment Rick Taggart said any name that includes University of Colorado or Colorado State University in the title is off limits because Grand Junction would have to join either one of those systems to use the name. He said using Grand Junction in the name is also unlikely because the town is not extremely well-known out of state.

Taggart downplayed the idea of including a person’s name in the title unless, he joked, “someone has $100 million to donate.”

That leaves mostly names that use geographic landmarks, direction, and the standby of “Mesa.”

Student Trustee Ryan Hendershot said the biggest concern he has heard from students about a name change is that including “university” in the school’s title will change the small class sizes and community feel of the campus. Hendershot said he doubted that culture, which he said is “ingrained” in students and faculty, would change any time soon. Trustee Doug Price agreed.

“I think it’s harder to change a culture than a name. You can’t change culture on a dime,” he said.

Concerns have been raised about tuition. New name or not, Mesa State is tentatively planning to increase tuition by 4.7 or 6 percent next year, according to Mesa State Vice President of Finance Pat Doyle. That equates to an extra $8.50 or $11 per credit hour.

All other four-year schools in the state are considering tuition increases of 9, 14 or 20 percent next year.



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