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Name Change

 

On April 6, 2007, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved UMR’s proposal to change our name to Missouri University of Science and Technology – Missouri S&T for short. The new name will take effect on Jan. 1, 2008. To stay current with events related to the name change transition, visit the Name Change Conversations weblog.

The Case for a Name Change

Posted Nov. 10, 2006
Updated Jan. 30, 2007 (additional endorsements)
Updated March 29, 2007 (additional endorsements)
Download the UMR Name Change White Paper (138 KB)

Background

In his State of the University address on Monday, Oct. 9, UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III reaffirmed UMR’s goal to become one of the nation’s top five technological research universities as defined in the draft UMR Strategic Plan. To more effectively achieve campus priorities, Chancellor Carney proposed a university wide conversation about the possibility of changing the university’s name to something that better reflects our mission and focus. The rationale for a name change is also available in Chancellor Carney’s PowerPoint presentation:

Why consider a name change?

  • To distinguish UMR from the other University of Missouri campuses. Among the four University of Missouri campuses, the University of Missouri-Rolla is unique because of its focus as a technological research university . The university’s name, however, does not reflect the distinctive nature of the campus. Often, UMR is viewed as a “satellite" or “branch" campus due to its name or as a “feeder" campus for the University of Missouri-Columbia (commonly referred to as the University of Missouri). This branch-campus designation hinders many of our efforts to achieve national recognition and a strong reputation as a technological research university. Alumni, faculty and staff report the campus confusion, as they are often referred to as being associated with the “University of Missouri" in edited biographies, introductions and news media reports. In fact, the current diploma reads “University of Missouri" and only refers to Rolla in small print as “Done in the University in the City of Rolla."
  • To reflect the university’s national mission. The goal of UMR’s Strategic Action Plan (PDF) is to make UMR one of the nation’s top five technological research universities by 2010. Many of our “comparators" possess names that better reflect their mission. Universities such as California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Georgia Institute of Technology all have names that reflect their mission.
  • To broaden our market share for the best students nationally. Interest in engineering continues to decline on a national level. Currently, less than 5 percent of college-bound high school seniors express an interest in engineering. Compounding this problem for UMR, the number of high school graduates in Missouri will decline by around 10 percent between 2010 and 2013. More than 75 percent of UMR students traditionally come from Missouri, with the remainder coming mostly from contiguous states. The shifting demographics (see map) and declining student interest in engineering and science threaten UMR’s future viability. A name that is more descriptive of our focus in science and technology will help us attract the students interested in such an education.
  • To enhance the university’s reputation. While UMR is known in the Midwest and in specialized circles for its academic excellence, it is less well known on a national and international scale. Beyond the Midwest, prospective students often view UMR as a branch campus. One indicator of this lack of visibility can be seen in the number of ACT scores UMR receives from high school seniors outside of Missouri. Of the 1.1 million seniors in the nation who took the ACT in 2006, only 551 non-Missouri seniors – or .05 percent – sent their scores to UMR. A more distinctive, mission-based name would more easily achieve national visibility for both our recruiting efforts and our research programs. This increased visibility would in turn lead to stronger graduate programs and additional research funding.

Projected change in High School graduation rates 2002-2012:



 

 

Technological research universities: vital to our economic survival

UMR is one of the few technological research universities in the nation. A technological research university may be defined as one in which a majority of students are enrolled in engineering, the sciences, business or mathematics; the graduate and research programs in those fields are robust; and exceptional academic programs in the liberal arts, humanities and social sciences complement and provide context to the technological strengths of the institution.

As the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy explain in the 2006 report on global competitiveness, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, technological universities are vital to the nation’s economic well being. Therefore, it is imperative that UMR thrive in this globally competitive environment. We must attract more students from outside the state of Missouri in order to maintain our undergraduate and graduate enrollment, increase research funding and private support, and build our reputation as one of the nation’s premier technological research universities.

Chart 1: Potential U.S. Undergraduate Engineering Majors



  

Less than 5 percent of the nation’s high school seniors are interested in studying engineering (see Chart 1, above).

UMR enrolled 560 of the 769 high school seniors in Missouri who were interested in and prepared to study engineering in 2006 (see student funnel graphic, below). The number enrolled represents just over 1.3 percent of the 42,705 Missouri high school students who took the ACT that year.

Chart 2: Missouri Public High School Graduates, 1987-88 to 2001-2002 (actual),
2002-2003 to 2017-2018 (projected)



 

 

Between 2008 and 2010, the number of high school graduates in Missouri – our primary source for students – will decline precipitously. (See Chart 2, above.)

Of the 1.1 million U.S. students who took the ACT test last year, only 551 out-of-state students sent their scores to UMR.

 

Missouri's 2005 Student Funnel for
All Engineering Fields

 



 

Reputation matters

The UMR name is well known in our geographic region and among the research agencies and corporate recruiters aware of our areas of expertise. However, beyond those areas, the name and reputation are either confused with MU or unknown by uninformed students, corporate partners and opinion leaders. For 42 years, the university has had limited success in marketing itself as a national technological research university because of the regional, branch-campus designation of the name. While the marketing and recruitment efforts have been successful to a limited extent, the lack of a distinctive name makes recruitment on a national scale much more difficult.

To many, including the media and academic leaders who rank our reputation in national polls, the place identifier “Rolla" on University of Missouri-Rolla signifies that our university is a branch campus or a regional institution. This is particularly true among residents of states where hyphenated names are used to indicate such institutions. Even the regional and national media frequently credit the work of our faculty and students to MU or the University of Missouri.

A name that more accurately reflects our strengths can make us more effective in our national enrollment, research, and fundraising efforts.

About the process

Considering a change in campus culture as significant as a name change is something that deserves extensive study and diligent consideration. Therefore, Chancellor Carney and other campus leaders are actively seeking input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, our corporate partners and others. The MSM-UMR Alumni Association is assisting by surveying alumni about the name change through the winter 2006 issue of its quarterly alumni publication, UMR Magazine.

Following the information-gathering stage of the process, university leaders must then decide whether to change the name, and if so, what to call the university. Some possible names include:

  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T, MO S&T)
  • Missouri University of Science and Engineering (Missouri S&E, MO S&E)
  • Missouri Technological University
  • Missouri Science and Technology University (Missouri S&T, MO S&T)
  • Missouri Science and Engineering University (Missouri S&E, MO S&E)

The University of Missouri Board of Curators must approve any suggested name change. The university will remain a part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, even if the university adopts a new name.

Cost issues

Other Missouri universities have estimated the one-time cost to change permanent signage and display materials as a result of a name change to be between $100,000 and $250,000. At UMR, no student fees or state funds would be used to pay for any such changes.

Support for a name change

Several alumni groups have endorsed the idea of a name change. They include:

  • The UMR Board of Trustees
  • The UMR Academy of Engineering Management
    The UMR Academy of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineers
  • The UMR Corporate Development Council
  • The UMR School of Management and Information Systems Advisory Council
  • The UMR School of Management and Information Systems Executive Committee
  • The UMR Order of the Golden Shillelagh (OGS) Executive Committee
  • The UMR Enrollment Development Team
  • The UMR Recruitment Committee

Voice your opinion

Chancellor Carney and other campus leaders are actively seeking input on this issue. The chancellor and others are meeting with alumni, students, faculty and staff to gather feedback on the idea. The MSM-UMR Alumni Association will survey alumni through the winter issue of its quarterly alumni publication, UMR Magazine. In addition, UMR plans to conduct online surveys of students, faculty and staff to gather input. Chancellor Carney also plans to meet with UMR alumni, area legislators, community leaders, and others.

If you would like to share your opinion on the name change, please email Chancellor Carney at chancellor@mst.edu .

 

 

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