Imagine the concept of taking “state” out of Weber State University’s name, leaving it as Weber University. That’s what WSU senior Josh Hall did. Earlier this semester, Hall brought up the idea during a student senate meeting. This name change, Hall said, could help attract more potential students, as well as show that WSU is more than a commuter school.
“I believe that the name should be changed,” said Nick Phinney, the Asian students senator. “I like it a lot. I think that we are a university that can hold that brand name. The quality of life on campus, I believe, will be improved, because we won’t be mistaken as a community college or a smaller college. We will be known as a university.”
The idea has intrigued many students and alumni. Some people already agree the name change would have a positive impact on the university.
“I feel very strongly about it. I have become a huge advocate for it,” said Dahlen Langston, WSU alumnus. “I was one of the first people they brought it up to. The idea was a hard idea to ignore. The perceptions that Weber State University had could be greatly changed just by dropping the ‘state.’”
Hall said he invested a lot of time and energy into this concept and wrote a paper on it, as well as turning his research into a class project. In his research, he pointed out that if WSU dropped the “state,” not only would the school’s amount of students increase, but funding would as well.
“I did hear some talk several years back about the leaders of the university looking for ways to attract more out-of-state students,” Hall said. “I always thought dropping the ‘state’ would be beneficial. I talked to students and alumni about it, and just about all of them gave me a positive response.”
Hall found that many schools that are not named after their states have dropped “state” from their name and have had good results. According to Hall, those schools have received more funding, as well as a higher number in students.
The name may not seem like a big deal to some students, Hall said, because they already know they have a great university.
“Somebody out of state might see Weber State and categorize it with a lot of the other local colleges. But Weber University, even with a small change over time, could become anything with 10 or 15 years.”
Some of the student senators wondered about the cost of rebranding the university. During the meeting, they asked how much this minor change would cost the university and if the rewards would outweigh the cost.
“Could it bring us in less money? Yes. Could it bring us in more money? Yes. Could it bring us in the same amount of money? Yes,” Langston said. “In how the school is portrayed with having the ‘state’ in the name, I believe it will have an impact on the sports teams, because people will view us not just as a small program without the ‘state’ in the name.”
Hall encourages students to do some research and see for themselves if dropping “state” would be beneficial.
“Cost is absolutely a consideration,” he said. “Other schools have done it. Couple schools that I found were Troy, North Texas, Memphis, a couple schools back east. (For) most of those schools, it was just a slow transition. They didn’t have to spend any real money rebranding. All they did was, when they printed materials, when they made uniforms for their school, they just dropped the ‘state.’ There is a really strong upside there as far as the potential to get a lot more private donations.”
Although there has been no official talk about actually changing the university’s name, it has been discussed, and Hall said it is something WSU students should think about.
“We’re great, but we could be even better,” he said during the student senate meeting. “My goal is to get the school to do some real research and to see this on a ballot. I would love to speak in front of a board of trustees or anyone else who may have a say.”