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MC to Change the University’s Name

mississippi-college-choctaw-logo

“I want the best for the college,” said Jim Turcotte, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, on the subject of the possible changing of the university name.

Turcotte and President Lee Royce are currently in the process of hiring an outside firm to lead this transition from the school being named Mississippi College to a new, more fitting title for the institution.

Though no definite contenders have been decided upon concerning the new name, Dr. Turcotte feels that having ‘university’ in the name will, “help us catch up to our reputation.”

Mississippi College was originally known as Hampstead Academy when the school received its first charter in 1825. After two years, the name was changed to Mississippi Academy at the request of the Board of Trustees. Later in 1830, the institution became a university and the name was changed to Mississippi College.

Turcotte believes that the word ‘university’ should be in the name of the college due to the way the school is perceived around the country and across the globe. He explained that first impressions really do matter when it comes to colleges, and MC is often viewed as a two-year institution based on its name.

“We’re more than that,” said Turcotte on the subject, claiming that the timing of the change is wise due to the school’s recent acceptance into Division II athletics. He encourages students to weigh in on the decision and assures them that their opinions matter.

Turcotte also explained that students have asked for an on-field mascot for our school. He recalled fond memories of his years at Mississippi College as student body president and the excitement that Chief Choc, the old school mascot, brought to each sporting event at MC.

In the 1980s, a Choctaw Indian mascot suit was arranged and worn by Cliff Mitchell, former MC cheerleader and close friend of Turcotte.

Once, a parachutist was even hired to jump from a plane and land on the 50-yard line while dressed as Chief Choc during a football game. After the parachutist landed, Mitchell quickly changed into the suit and continued dancing and cheering the Choctaws on to victory.

Turcotte explained that the shortened name of Chief Choc, along with the cartoon-like suit for the mascot, was insulting to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The Chief Choc Indian mascot was no longer used after this was discovered, as to not offend the Choctaw Indians.

As for now, Mississippi College is reaching out to the Choctaw nation to decide what might be acceptable to use for an on-field mascot. Turcotte expressed no current plans to change the school’s mascot and exclaimed, “We are the Choctaws!”

- Katie Rogers, Copy Editor

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33 thoughts on “MC to Change the University’s Name

  1. As an alumni, I’m not a big fan of the name change idea. This issue has come up before, but it seems that the historic continuity of an almost 200 year old name outweighs the benefits of adding “university” to the title. And the acceptance into Division II athletics only verifies the school’s university status and should separate us from any concern about being a 2-year school.
    I’m also interested in the continued discussion around Chief Choc. Chief Choc was a consistent presence at football games during my tenure at MC (1999-2003) and was well accepted. My understanding was that, when the rest of the nation began to quit using indian-type references as mascots, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians told Mississippi College that they were honored to have the Choctaw as the school’s mascot and encouraged us to continue its use.

    • I second that David. Mississippi Christian University doesn’t appeal to me.
      When we were a Division II school before, we were Mississippi College. Why change the name at all? As an alum, I don’t want to have to explain where I went to school and what the name is now.

  2. As an alum of MC, the thought of a name change makes me really sad. Working in higher education, I do understand their concerns but gee it would be hard to see it change.

  3. I am not in favor of this change. I understand that there is concern about us being able to attract students outside of the state. However, at what cost? I know that some may see a name as simply a name. If so, then I ask you, “If a name is simply a name then why the need for change?”. Dartmouth College is Dartmouth “College”, not university. Other examples include Boston College, MIT, and William and Mary. In today’s world, it take less than 30 seconds to get information. 30 seconds to do a web search for “Mississippi College” or “4 year universities in Mississippi” Mississippi College’s reputation as an outstanding institution of higher learning is built upon the character and ability of those who enter and exit her doors. Adding university to our name does not change this. I didn’t choose to attend MC because of its name; I choose to go there because of what it offered in terms of personal and academic growth. When I left, I took the name with me and it follows me everywhere I go. I am proud to say that I am an alumnus of Mississippi College.

  4. Instead of a name change, I think it’s time to have a change in president and vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

    • Uh, absolutely not! President Royce is absolutely great. I hope they can keep him as long as possible. He and Mrs. Royce are great friends and supporters of the Music Department.

  5. What about Mississippi College University ? I guess Mississippi Baptist University is out of the question, too. I’m all for keeping it MC and not changing it. Class of 73.

  6. As an alumnus, I would have to disagree with changing the name, but I do see where the administration is coming from. William Carey University did the same thing a few years ago. I would be interesting to find out what the effects have been since then.

  7. Changing the name because you believe that people think it is a two year institution is lunacy. anyone who does any search about Mississippi College will find out immediately that it is a four year institution with a postgraduate and doctorate level programs.
    Is the university going to go back and change all of the rings and diplomas and other documents that have been given to students, such as transcripts?
    Simply shorten the name to MC.

    • I agree, Baxter. Living away from the South, I already spend enough time explaining how “I did not go to Ole Miss.” This will just increase the confusion. IMHO- changing the name to improve the brand feels backwards. My wife went to Smith College (which, like MC, has multiple schools and graduate programs) and they don’t seem to have any issues attracting applicants. Meanwhile, there is a proliferation of diploma mill schools bearing the University designation not worthy of a second look. The emphasis should be on building better programs not finding a way to squeeze “University” into the letterhead.

      • “Meanwhile, there is a proliferation of diploma mill schools bearing the University designation not worthy of a second look. The emphasis should be on building better programs not finding a way to squeeze “University” into the letterhead.”

        Great point.

  8. I believe changing the name would be a huge mistake. One of the things that makes Mississippi College unique is it’s long and storied history. It’s name serves as a link to that history. I would suggest that if there is concern about confusion over what Mississippi College offers, then the shortfall is in telling our story effectively, not in our name. I do not think a name change will accomplish what you are after and you will lose much more than you gain. Please reconsider this course of action. It is a really bad idea.

  9. NOT in favor of a name change. Do not wipe out many years of history. With a name change comes — who/where is that. (MC 1981 / MC Law 1985).

  10. Another vote for no name change. I do not see how it would help in any way. MC is well thought of.. sough out by many.. the numbers continue to be good. As Lamar said above, there are other Universities that hold on to their College name and have not been hurt or hindered.

  11. I agree with David White and Lamar Davis. MC obviously has an international reputation. Why change the name now? However, I do see wisdom in consulting with the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians to be sure they are still open to MC’s use of the Choctaw mascot.

  12. Why are Mississippians so afraid of change? How is it that a name change will be a mistake or wipe out history? Changing the name may upset some people, but if you truly care about MC, you want what is best for the school. I would venture to say that no one would decide NOT to go to MC because they changed the name and if someone were so obstinate to decide not to go because of a name change, why would MC want them to attend their college anyway! Graduates from Mississippi University for Women (accepting men since 1982) are a big part of the reason they haven’t changed their name. For over 30 years they’ve been accepting men, but because alumni are so adamant, they’ve kept a name that is highly misleading and is, without a doubt, hurting their school. If adding the word “University” to MC would bring in more students, why would you not do that?

    • Kassy, a university’s life’s blood is its alumni support. You may believe that any enlightened person should want to include “University” in your school’s name. But please understand that your belief and conviction will not be shared by many people. If the name change offends and alienates a sizeable group of proud alumni, who then no longer support the school, you may believe that group to be stubborn and ignorant, but that will not change the reality that the school will have lost their support, including financial contributions. The school may have a pretty new name, but what will the school have lost by making that change. Proceed with caution.

  13. I am proud to say I graduated from Mississippi College as did my brother, Dr. Billy D. Lytal. The history of the college makes it special. Hillman College and Mississippi College merged. Hillman began in 1853 and remained open through the Civil War. There is so much to consider before changing the name.

  14. In the 183 years since the university has been known as Mississippi College the university has made many positive changes.

    A name change now would not be in that group.

    MC students are a unique breed. If one is to attend here, they know the school is on the university level and they know it is a Christian university. Change would serve no purpose here.

    i humbly agree with my fellow Choctaws here on this one.

  15. As several dozen reviews on this article has stated, it is ridiculous to change the name of Mississippi College to include “university” to emphasize the fact that the institution is a four year institution instead of a two year institution. If you want to emphasize the institution’s standing as a premier institution for education beyond the typical two year “college”, then here’s a crazy idea…
    Make it so. Instead of investing millions of dollars in rebranding the institution’s name – including rebranding every single piece of Mississippi College merchandise to “X Y University”, every piece of letterhead, every web page, every single aspect of the institution’s existence – how about investing that money in… hmm… I know! Education? Mississippi College is an excellent institution, and I am proud of my Alma Mater. But I find it so very hard to remain proud of her once I see what the rest of academia is like.
    MC has two “doctoral” programs – a Doctorate of Education and a Doctorate of Professional Counseling. This is, of course, not counting the Law School – which would also have to be rebranded, see the pattern? – which offers the Juris Doctorate. The money you could be investing in establishing a Doctorate of Philosophy – the high point of most academic achievements – in the sciences, history, english, mathematics, psychology, anthropology, and a variety of other studies offered at the university is being invested in… changing the name. To attract more students. You know what attracts students – serious students, not just students who want to play football for a few years? Opportunities. A university that offers several Ph.D programs would attract a much higher quality – and quantity – of students than an “X Y University” with two doctorate programs, one MFA program, and a slew of masters programs. You could bring in graduate students at a much higher rate. Ultimately, changing the name will show the world that you’re more concerned about your IMAGE rather than your PURPOSE. This may well be the case, as we can see from looking at the beautiful campus, which has, about once a month, a complete makeover, where the gardeners rip out all the “old” plants and flowers and replace them with new ones. No telling how much this landscaping costs, but it makes us LOOK nice. Mississippi College is supposed to be one of the finest ACADEMIC institutions in the state, dedicated to giving students the knowledge they need to better the world – the motto above our archs are “Enter here to increase in Stature, Knowledge, and Wisdom” and “Depart to Share your Culture with All Mankind”. Perhaps we should focus more on what “knowledge, wisdom, and stature” we offer to students rather than what our name says and “implies”.

  16. I am not in favor of a name change for the school for many reasons, some of which have already been mentioned above, so I will not repeat them. However simplistic the thought, it occurred to me that with most alumni happy and excited about the return to Division II sports, why hack them off with a name change? I am willing to bet that most alumni would not approve of the name change. I’d rather see money spent on actual educational endeavors than changing the name.

  17. Alumni, if you disagree with a name change, let the administrators know you will vote with your wallet and withhold your contributions until this idea is put aside.

  18. I’m a non-alumnus, Louisiana resident, and 1976 graduate of Northeast Louisiana University, another school that changed its name, WITHOUT POPULAR SUPPORT, in 1999. Based on the vast majority of the comments, I’d strongly caution the administration against forcing through an unpopular name change. NLU, now ULM, has never recovered its former status. Alumni support decreased significantly, as did student enrollment (NLU school enrollment averaged 11,000 for 18 years between 1980-1998. In 1999, average annual enrollment fell below 10,000, and has never reached that level again. Current enrollment is about 8,500.). I know NLU’s situation was different than MC’s, but changing the name of Mississippi College would seem to be a questionable move, unless someone can think of a name that really is stronger. For goodness sake, I hope you guys don’t fall prey to someone’s flawed logic about the need for more recognition when your university already carries statewide branding. Good luck folks!

  19. I’m an alumnus, and I’d like to see the name changed. Turcotte is right when he says that first impressions matter. Something like “Hampstead University” would have my vote! It has an air of prestige to it. :-)
    MC has so many great programs to offer (I myself am a proud product of the Music Department), and it would be a shame if some bright new pupils were turning the school away because they perceive it as a two-year college.

    • David, caution is advised, even if you and others are convinced that the name change idea is an excellent one. The new name, once agreed upon by whomever is making the decision, may or may not actually be a better name. But if the new name divides and alienates alumni, and causes a loss of financial support for MC, what advancement will have resulted? Mississippi College now has a very proud name, which the school can retain for historical purposes, just like Boston College, Dartmouth College, and William & Mary College, Marist College, Vassar College, Iona College, and others. You and others may not understand why fellow alums, whom you might consider stubborn, intolerant, or closed minded, don’t share your enlightened mind status. But you ignore them at your potential peril. If only half an army marches into battle, that army’s chances of success are greatly diminished. Before the school changes its name, I hope that everyone understands that in the name of advancement, much may be lost, and the losses may outweigh the potential gain.

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