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Max Castillo

Post-mortem on UH-Downtown name change

It’s safe to say that UH-Downtown will remain UH-Downtown for at least two more years, since there’s no time to get a name change bill through the Lege at this point. The Chron takes a look at how the attempt to change it this year went down the tubes.

One possibility, Houston Metropolitan University, was rejected by faculty as too cheesy. Another, University of South Texas, prompted a letter warning of possible trademark infringement from South Texas College of Law President James Alfini.

Now, it’s back to the drawing board. The school is soliciting proposals from companies to suggest new names.

Maybe that will have a better outcome. It seems clear to me that a lack of trust about the process, as well as a belief that UH-D doesn’t get the respect it deserves from the rest of the UH system were the main factors. If this is going to be pursued further, a process that involves students, faculty, and alumni will be essential to getting any kind of buy-in. I don’t know if they need to do this or not, but they do need to get everyone on the same page.

UH-Downtown to move ahead with name change

They still don’t know what they want to be called, however.

School leaders are going ahead with plans to rename the University of Houston-Downtown, despite opposition from students, alumni and some faculty members.

“If it has its own distinctive name, it can move forward (and) be known,” said Welcome Wilson Sr., chairman of the board that governs UH-Downtown and other schools in the UH system.

He and university president Max Castillo said Tuesday they believe the benefits of a new name would outweigh the disapproval of those who don’t want it to change.

Any new name would have to be approved by the Legislature, and Castillo said a new name could be in place by fall. He and Wilson met with the Chronicle editorial board Tuesday to explain their reasoning.

Regents voted last month to support the change but stopped short of recommending the name Castillo proposed: Houston Metropolitan University.

That’s still under consideration, however, along with University of South Texas, University of Southeast Texas, Gulf Coast State University and other options. Faculty, staff and students will vote on their top five choices; the vote ends Tuesday.

Regents will select a new name in February.

Michelle Moosally, an associate professor of English and president of the faculty Senate, said it’s been hard to gauge reaction, partially because classes just resumed after the holiday break.

Some people don’t want the name changed, she said. Others support a change, but don’t like any of the proposed names. And some feel rushed into making a decision.

Castillo acknowledged that the idea is not universally popular. “Right now, I’m the kiss of death on campus,” he said.

Hey, I liked Houston Metropolitan University, even if the regents didn’t. While it would probably be better to build a stronger consensus for whatever new name they choose, the fact is that the Lege is only in session for so long, and the more time you have to shepherd a bill through the process, the better your odds of success are. Frankly, I won’t be surprised if they don’t get a bill through and have to wait till 2011 to get this done. There’s also now some organized opposition to this – I got notice of a Facebook group called UH-D Community Standing Together, with the description “As students, graduates, faculty, staff & friends, we say NO to the name change.” I don’t really have a preference as to whether they go forward with this or not, I just wish them all luck in figuring it out, whatever happens.