February 08, 2009
The ongoing UH-Downtown renaming saga

Still going nowhere fast.

University of Houston System regents Friday decided to wait for more suggestions before choosing a new moniker for UH-Downtown, concerned that "South Texas" made no reference to the city and overlaps with South Texas College of Law. They said the process, which came up with the suggested name in about a month, had been rushed.

"UH-Downtown has great programs, deans, professors and graduates," said Welcome W. Wilson Sr., chairman of the board. "It doesn't have an identity. It is an invisible university. However, maybe the time frame is a bit short. It could be that four weeks (was) not enough."

Regents voted in December to change the name of UH-Downtown to increase recognition and distinguish it from the University of Houston's largest campus. But coming up with a new name is a ticklish matter, guaranteed to offend some, including those who believe no change is needed.

"We can vet some more names, but we are never going to get a consensus," UH-Downtown President Max Castillo said after the meeting. "Any change is going to get dialogue, contention and debate. I think we've done our due diligence in bringing this (name) forth."

Well, that's one way of putting it. The good news for those who don't like any of the names they've contemplated, or who think they shouldn't have bothered in the first place - there's a Facebook group for you if that's the case - is that it seems unlikely they'll be able to get their act together in time to get a bill written, sponsored, and passed by the Lege; certainly, not having a strong consensus won't help those efforts, either. So if you like things as they are, or at least prefer them to what they could be, you're probably in good shape till 2011.

A special university committee solicited faculty, student and public input before recommending University of South Texas. It sent out surveys, conducted focus groups and considered scores of names, including some that sounded like a bank (Fidelity State University), a charter school (Challenger State University), a Soviet institution (People's State University) and a very distant outpost (Houston Lunar University).

Some regents said the name simply did not appeal to them . Others thought the similarity to South Texas College of Law -- or even Texas Southern University -- could present problems.

I'm telling you - Houston Metropolitan University is where it's at. The Chron is with me. Your move, Regents.

UPDATE: Sandra was at the meeting on Friday, and provides a report. She does not like "Houston Metropolitan University". Mean Green Cougar Red, who thinks HMU isn't so bad, and Stace, who prefers "University of South Texas", have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 08, 2009 to Elsewhere in Houston

Any way you cut it the reality is there was objection to "those people" receiving a degree from U of H and so the name will be changed. Despite it still being part of the U of H system. All the arguments they have used simply do not have legitimate basis because the same problems do not exist at U of H Clear Lake or U of H Victoria. At best, it's elitism. At worst, it's racism. Most believe it is the latter.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on February 8, 2009 9:40 AM

Charles, I was at the meeting and I have an account of the proceedings on my li'l ol' blog if you're interested. P.S. We all hate Houston Metro U. It sounds like a tech school for bus drivers.

Posted by: Sandra on February 8, 2009 1:18 PM

They're having the classic product/company naming problem, which is expecting a name to do everything for them. Doesn't work that way. Names have meaning because of inherent attributes of the thing being named, or because of effort - long term effort - to build an identity around the name. Given that it has to have "university," it has to have "Houston" if they want it to relate to the city, and then there's not much name left... they are kind of stuck.

Seems to me that putting this effort into communicating the school's strengths and unique attributes to the public would get them a lot farther.

Posted by: John on February 8, 2009 1:48 PM

The idea of changing systems has also entered the conversation. This debate is typical of Houston's tear down mentality. Maybe another, bigger system will appreciate UH-D for the asset it is.

Posted by: Sandra on February 8, 2009 4:38 PM
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