KANSAS CITY — The University of Missouri-Columbia can now drop the hyphen and “Columbia” from its name for public-relation purposes.
The UM System’s Board of Curators voted 8-0 to allow MU to refer to itself as the “University of Missouri” in materials for fundraising, recruiting students and faculty, alumni relations, marketing and intercollegiate athletics.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and Interim UM System President Gordon Lamb reached the compromise, and UM System spokesman Scott Charton said the system’s three other chancellors are satisfied with the decision.
“We are not attempting to be confrontational about this,” Deaton said. “We just want to have the appropriate brand name.”
Faculty and student groups at the University of Missouri-St. Louis have spoken out against the new name. UMSL Chancellor Thomas George said it is clear that some people on his campus are concerned about the name change.
“This is what the curators passed, and so now we need to move on,” George said. He said each campus is already a strong individual entity.
Deaton acknowledged the changes are mostly symbolic. One of the main frustrations Deaton said that he’s heard from alumni is the Columbia distinction has geographic limitations outside the state of Missouri.
“We are the comprehensive, land-grant university for the state of Missouri,” he said. “We want to honor that and use the name in appropriate contexts.”
MU will still have to include the “Columbia” in any official documents, including budget documents and legal letters.
Deaton said he hopes the change will clarify the mission of each university. He said the name would indicate MU as the “comprehensive university” in the four-campus system, while the University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Missouri-St. Louis are distinguished as the system’s urban campuses. The Rolla campus changed its name in April to the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The changes were originally placed on the consent agenda for the Board of Curators meeting. Items on the consent agenda are rarely discussed and usually passed by the board quickly. The item was moved after Curator John Carnahan voiced concerns about the controversy surrounding the changes.
During Thursday’s discussion, Vice Chairwoman Cheryl Walker said that the Board of Curators is clarifying, not changing, the Columbia campus’ name.
“It is no different than using MU,” Walker said after the meeting. “It is not legally binding but still is used.”
Deaton said he thinks the goals of the “Restore the Roar: Reclaim Our Name” campaign were fulfilled with the new name.
The campaign started in May when the National Campaign Steering Committee sent a letter to Deaton requesting the name change. The committee is a group of 57 MU alumni and others who are volunteer leaders of the “For All We Call Mizzou” fundraising campaign.
Before the meeting, Curator Don Walsworth said he searched MU’s Web site and found that nine out of the 10 departments within the university he looked at already used “University of Missouri” without the Columbia distinction.
“It mainly is just reflecting current realities,” student curator Tony Luetkemeyer said.
Deaton said the change will be gradual.
“It’s not like we are going to go out and buy new stationary right away,” he said.