The Name Game

From the Dec. 5-20, 1908 edition of the Lawrentian:

Alas! It is “L.U.” no longer – but “L.C.” This is the way it happened. The movement for changing the name of “University” to “College” was started years ago, but nothing definite was done until the annual banquet of the Lawrence Alumni Association at Milwaukee, Nov. 13. Such a meeting was the proper place for inaugurating a peculiar movement of this kind, and a motion made by Rev. Henry Coleman, a member of Lawrence’s first graduating class, to the effect of making the proposed change was unanimously carried by the members present – as noted in the last “Lawrentian.”

On Dec. 2, was held a meeting of the trustees, at which the recommendation of the alumni was brought up and formally passed. This is a unique case among American institutions of learning, so far as our observation goes, and has been the occasion of much comment, both frivolous and serious, all over the country. A large number of the Lawrence students do not favor the change, largely, perhaps, because of the strangeness of the new name; but we consider it one of the biggest things Lawrence has ever done.

The principal reason for the new name is the fact that Lawrence is not a university, nor does she pretend to be. To rank as a university would necessitate the establishment of colleges of medicine, law, etc., under a common head. This in turn would mean an endowment of eight or ten million dollars more than is in sight at the present time. It was simply the case of a small school sailing under the big name of university. Now we have the satisfaction to know we have one of the best “colleges” in the United States.”

In the “Nation” of Nov. 19, appeared the following interesting editorial pertinent to the subject in hand:

“Lawrence University at Appleton, Wisconsin, will henceforth be known as Lawrence College if the board of trustees acts favorably upon a petition presented by the alumni association. We chronicle this isolated phenomenon in the history of American higher education, because it is astonishing in itself, but, more than that, because it is not the act of some eccentric benefactor who has hit upon this condition for lending spice to his charity. In cool blood, or at least in a state of such coolness as is conceivable at an alumni banquet, Lawrence University’s graduates have decided that Alma Mater should no longer sail under false colors. Yet the institution has an attendance of nearly 600, and a faculty of thirty-three, which, as Western universities go, is doing well; and it is reported to maintain a college of liberal arts, supplemented by ‘schools of expression, commerce, music and correspondence.'”

Lawrence remained Lawrence College from 1908 until 1964 when, upon completion of the merger with Milwaukee-Downer College, the name changed back to Lawrence University.