Westminster may call campus a university
January 5, 2006
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Sheena McFarland
Task force looking into making the change to draw more students
Westminster College may soon become a university.
A task force made up of faculty, students, staff and alumni will make its recommendation in February or March about a possible name change.
"We're asking our constituency if a change would benefit us in name recognition," said Dick van Klaveren, task force chairman and a Westminster alumnus. "We want to know if it would attract more students to be named a university."
The private college currently enrolls about 2,000 undergraduates and 500 graduate students, with 25 undergraduate degrees and six graduate programs. The school has 28 buildings on 27 acres at 1300 East and 1700 South, Salt Lake City. A name change from college to university would require no additional funding or programs, van Klaveren said.
The motivation comes as about 150 colleges nationwide have changed their name from college to university between 1990 and 2000, he said.
"They have changed their names to reflect the feeling of feeling larger," he added.
President Michael Bassis says he isn't sure there would be benefits to the name change and hopes the task force can find such answers.
"There are a lot of schools that have grown and matured to a point where a university name seems appropriate," Bassis said. "But we're just asking the question, 'Does this make sense for us or not?' "
In his directive to the task force, Bassis asked members to consider compatibility with image and direction, views from faculty, staff and students, and any costs involved.
While the topic has come up in several forums over the years, this is the first time in Bassis' five-year tenure that a name change has been discussed formally.
However, he adds that a new name wouldn't change the college's goals.
"The institution has its character and vision for its future, which will have a much greater impact than what the name
might be," he said.