Battle for MSU mark goes postal

Floyd criticizes SMSU’s trademark move in a letter to its president.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:46 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The president of the University of Missouri System has remained quiet concerning Southwest Missouri State University’s desire to change its name to “Missouri State University.”

But Elson Floyd is making his stance clear on SMSU’s effort to trademark “Missouri State University” before the legislature approves the name change.

“I am writing to express my disappointment that Southwest Missouri State University is seeking trademarks for the name ‘Missouri State University’ without authorization by the General Assembly and the governor,” Floyd wrote to SMSU President John Keiser in a letter dated Jan. 31. “While the name issue is again before the General Assembly this year, it certainly has not been resolved.”

Proposals to change the name of SMSU have been before the General Assembly since the late 1980s; last week, the Senate’s higher-education committee voted in favor of the change.

Floyd said trying to trademark the proposed name “is contrary to legislative action and intent, and inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust.”

MSU has historical precedent in the UM system, which can be seen in the inscription of “Missouri State University” in the Capitol in reference to MU.

On Tuesday, Keiser responded to Floyd’s letter. He wrote that Floyd’s opinion is based on “inaccurate and incomplete information,” denying that SMSU is attempting to “usurp the name ‘Missouri State University’ prior to approval by the General Assembly and governor.”

He said SMSU has resisted using “Missouri State” because it is not yet appropriate. The trademark documents clearly state the name will only be used after the university receives legislative approval.

The letter also disputed Floyd’s claim of the name’s strong association with MU, pointing out that the “Capitol historian, who is an MU graduate, disagrees with this claim.”

Keiser said he hopes the MU administration has not “joined the shrill few who have vowed to say or do anything, no matter how inaccurate or dishonorable, in an attempt to derail an action that would be good for the state of Missouri.”

Keiser pointed out that opponents have accused SMSU of attempting to steal funds, students, land grants, professional schools and much more from MU.

“Clearly, these opponents will say or do anything to accomplish their goals. The University of Missouri is better than that,” Keiser wrote. “To date, in its official correspondence, MU has not sullied its reputation by directly engaging in the half-truths and petty comments that have been made in opposition to what should be a matter of little interest to MU and a positive step forward for the state of Missouri.”

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