Recently, a proposal by Len Gougeon, Ph.D., of the English and Theater department calls upon the Faculty Senate to consider a change of drastic proportions to The University.
The proposal for consideration to change The University’s name, would have widespread ramifications to not only The University and its proud identity, but for the entire city of Scranton, state of Pennsylvania and Jesuit unviersity community in general.
Gougeon’s proposal is a knee-jerk reaction to the lower enrollment in the most recent admissions year. There is a fundamental lack of understanding about the affordability of a college education during this stagnant job economy, the identity of The University and the fallout of what would actually happen if The University changed its name.
A name change would prove ill-timed and costly to The University — or starters, the labor it would take to remove The University’s name from buildings, banners, sports uniforms and website pages, coupled with the marketability challenge of getting the new name out to prospective applicants. The confusion between the old name and the new name could further impede enrollment issues.
The public relations and financial battle between The University and the city’s government is well documented, including the city’s most recent attempt to block the razing of Leahy Hall. Changing the name would add another element to this tension because it would imply that the city’s name just is not good enough to attract students. The University community is proud of the city of Scranton and its heritage, and changing the name of The University says otherwise.
Gougeon cites multiple sources throughout his proposal, including the July 25 New York Times article “College Enrollment Falls as Economy Recovers.” He cited the 2 percent enrollment drop for colleges in the 2012-13 school year, an important statistic to note. However, is there a direct correlation between the name of The University and a drop in enrollment? It clearly did not seem to be an issue two years ago, when The University enrolled its largest class.
This problem is not the name The University of Scranton. Instead, it is the figure $44,907. This is the total cost for a first-year student at The University, including tuition, room and board. The University should focus more of its time and effort not on scraping the current name off signs and buildings, but instead working to make our outstanding education more affordable for those families who have children with the profile of a Scranton student, but are struggling financially.
The names suggested by Gougeon include Loyola Pennsylvania, Loyola University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University of Scranton, all of which take away the sense of pride in the Scranton heritage as well as the cultural and religious diversity we champion and encourage. The University of Scranton, when read, does not convey a meaning of a small, local university with no Ignatian values and religious affiliation. The name and meaning of this school is meant for anyone — Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim — to come and learn these Ignatian values, to be men and women for other people and to apply these values throughout their missions in life.
I would urge the Faculty Senate not to focus its time and energy on this futile proposal, and instead work toward new creative plans to increase enrollment as well as keep the standards which have brought us this tradition of excellence.
contact the writer: