The Massachusetts State House of Representatives approved, by a margin of 124-21, a bill that will change the name of Bridgewater State College to Bridgewater State University.
Similarly, Fitchburg, Framingham, Salem, Westfield and Worcester colleges will also change their names.
At a time when the Massachusetts public university system is raising fees at a breakneck pace, it's discouraging to see the House funneling money into something as useless as new stationary and new signs at the state's public colleges. State Rep. David L. Flynn of Bridgewater, vice chairman of the Committee on Higher Education, noted that "In some important terms, this will improve the marketing position of these state college vis-à-vis other states in our region, such as Connecticut and New Hampshire."
But are students who are dumb enough to pick a "university" over a "college" really students worth attracting? Maybe Bridgewater State should change its name to "Grey Goose Vodka College." That would certainly attract the aspirational types who are obsessed with brands and prestige.
The idea of colleges changing their names to bolster their marketing appeal is not a new one. It reached a hilarious apex in 2001 when Beaver College, north of Philadelphia, changed its name to Arcadia University. Bette Landman, the head of Beaver at the time, noted that the name -- which had been around since 1853 -- "too often elicits ridicule in the form of derogatory remarks pertaining to the rodent, the TV show Leave It to Beaver and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy."
Female anatomy aside, you really have to wonder whether there are better ways to spend our limited education dollars.