Naming Process

Message from President Nora Miller

As we are winding things up for 2022, I want to give you an update on where we are in the Name Change process. In late October-early November we sent out over 39,000 invitations to participate in our survey. These went out to alumni, students, faculty, staff, prospective students, business leaders and others in our community. Over 4,000 responses were verified, and over 600 people indicated that they would be willing to participate in focus group discussions if their name were chosen in a random sample selection. 543 were invited to participate in 11 focus groups. 94 people took part in these focus groups. As they were held in late November and early December, final exams and holiday preparations seem to have limited participation. We will post a report that summarizes the survey results and what we have learned from the focus group discussions.

Throughout this process, we have heard concerns that we were moving faster than some of our constituents were comfortable with.  Respondents favored historic names, and those require genealogical review and vetting that takes time.  Being a state supported institution, and with a name change requiring legislative action, it will be important to recognize our public status in that name. Grappling with a name that is not inclusive of our current and prospective students on a daily basis sparks the urgency that I feel regarding a name change.  Choosing a permanent name for our university and building the support for that name is a momentous task and will take time.  Because of this, we will wait until the 2024 legislative session to bring a name change to the table.  We will continue to inform you about this process and continue to seek your input.

Meanwhile, we have started our work with Ruffalo Noel Levitz with training for our admissions and financial aid counselors and staff. We will be working with their team to more than double our pool of prospective students, and to build out our Slate customer relationship management system for tracking and communicating with those prospective students.  We will use the data collected and analyzed to inform our recruiting processes.  While most of this will be focused on the fall 2024 recruitment, we will be able to impact our ongoing recruitment for fall 2023.
As we begin 2023, we will explore ways that we can continue to live our historic mission of serving underserved populations and advancing education and leadership opportunities for women and will be exploring funding opportunities to strengthen programming in that area.

I am looking forward to what the New Year holds for The W!  Wishing you all the best for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!

Nora Miller

President Nora Miller

Naming Task Force

Brian Anderson,
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

Symone Bounds,
Alumni Association President

Marty Brock,
Dean, College of Business & Professional Studies

David Brooking,
Executive Director, Enrollment Management

Marty Hatton,
Dean, School of Education

Brandy Larmon,
Dean, College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Jenny Katool,
Foundation President

Holly Krogh,
Faculty Senate President

Rachael Damms,
Staff Council President

Mackenzie Pearce,
Student Government Association President

Karen Clay,
University General Counsel

Anika Perkins,
Executive Director of University Relations

Amanda Clay Powers, Chair
Dean, Fant Memorial Library

Andrea Stevens,
Executive Director of Alumni & Development

Tom Richardson,
Former Provost and Dean, Professor and Eudora Welty Chair

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How much will a rebrand cost?

We are gathering information and will respond as soon as we can, but we don’t have a final answer yet. We have looked at the benefits and costs of a potential rebrand. We are confident that any costs for the rebrand will be minor when compared to the potential benefits. Past data proves the name is impacting enrollment in a negative way; 54% of the budget comes from tuition.

Do you have a name picked out already?

No. Many names have been provided by many people, but we are continuing to gather more information through listening sessions, focus groups, and surveys. We want to consider all naming options, themes, and ideas. We need more input and are excited to work with everyone. This is a fluid process. We thank everyone for their patience.

We have tried this in the past and it failed. What is different this time?

Enrollment and financial stability are key to our strategic plan and our success. We feel at this time there is more support than in the past and the business necessity for change is clearer. Also, the desire to become more inclusive is higher than ever before. 

What names are being considered?

Names for universities are limited. Generally, there are academic mission names, geographical names, and historical names. The names we are hearing in large part are tied to our state, region, alumni, and founders.

What is the timeline on this?

This depends on the information we receive and how quickly the committee can work through the many options and considerations. However, it is possible that this will be reviewed during the upcoming legislative session.

Will the mascot and colors be changing?

No, Ody Owl will remain a part of our rich traditions and we will keep our current colors.

How will this impact diplomas and transcripts for those currently at the institution?

We are still working through the options for that, but it is our intention to provide as much flexibility as we can.

Will this impact our mission?

No. We are determined to maintain and support our current mission. We will continue to honor our history and status as the first state-supported college for women in the United States.

Survey Questions

Is the survey meant to be a vote for the name of the University?

No. The survey is meant to get feedback on the names already suggested through the Naming Task Force’s Listening Sessions, emails, and in-person suggestions. We are still in the process of gathering name suggestions using the survey.

Why do I have to answer all the questions in the survey?

The survey was designed to get feedback on the geographic and historical names that have been suggested through the listening sessions, emails, and in person, as well as to find additional names to be researched and vetted by the Naming Task Force.  The survey is designed to evaluate all the names that have come through that process, so we ask for your input on all the names.  We place a high value on your opinion, and we hope you will complete the survey and note your feedback in the section provided for alternate names and other responses. 

Love Communications, the market research firm that designed the survey with the Naming Task Force, will be randomly selecting individuals to participate in focus groups from those who have indicated they would like to continue to help in this important process. 

Only the data from completed surveys will be used. The data from the survey will be compiled into a report by Love Communications, the market research firm who designed the survey in conjunction with the Naming Task Force.  This report will be posted on, and it will be used by the Naming Task Force and Love Communications to develop questions for the focus groups.  Volunteering for a focus group at the end of the survey will add you to the database that Love Communications will use to select participants.

Where did the names come from that are on the survey?

The names on the survey came directly from the Naming Task Force’s Open Listening Sessions, emails, and in-person suggestions from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the community.  Each name suggested was vetted by the Naming Task Force, and the names on the survey came from that process.  The Naming Task Force hopes to gather additional names for consideration through participation in the survey.