Faculty split over university title

By Andrew Marciello

The change from college to university has made its mark throughout campus.

Despite the much-publicized hubbub regarding the changeover from Fitchburg State College to Fitchburg State University, the faculty views this change with mixed feelings. Some view the university status as a way to change the perception of the school and to draw in new students with graduate aspirations. Others still see the publicity over the name change as just that— publicity.

The data used in this article comes directly from a sampling of professors from all departments asking them their views on whether or not the new university title has caused any tangible change on the campus.
One professor noted, “We at Fitchburg State have a very long way to go in order to accomplish this and to have real university status means something other than nice lobbies, plazas, and renovated buildings.”
Over 80 percent of FSU faculty surveyed stated that the most significant area of change so far has been in appearance. Recent construction has overcome the campus with changes in the Hammond Library, Condike Science Building, Anthony Administration Building, and Weston Auditorium. All of these buildings have undergone renovations in the last year and a half, as well as having an inlay with the school logo in the crosswalks on campus.
Most voiced a hope that more academic changes would occur over time, but have yet to see those hopes satisfied. One professor argued that the name change “enables us to dream better things for the college in terms of research and programs development.”
It’s true that the real benefit a university has over a college lays in the funding for and encouragement of faculty research and progressive scholarship. Several professors noted this and the positive effects that such scholarship could have on the students, including possibly adding doctoral degrees, raising FSU’s stature in the academic world. So far that has not been the case. “I hoped we would have a real discussion of what it means to be a university and try to focus more on academics, and enhancing the education/experience of the students but instead I see a lot of emphasis on big showy projects that look nice but add little to the academic experience” as one professor states.
Two out of every three teachers surveyed disagree with the notion that the title change was over hyped and all teachers agree that they have seen at least some change; there still remain a few die-hards fighting for the college name and what it means. “I feel strongly that the continual distinction made between the UMass university system and the eight (used to be college) universities creates a negative image of ‘not quite university,’” one professor said. “Last I knew Boston College and Oberlin College are still using that name with distinction. I think we attract students on merit and not name. I think we under estimated the students’ ability to discern who we are.”