Mankato changes

by Robin Huiras

The name Minnesota now crowns more than one university in the state.
Students graduating this spring at the university formerly known as Mankato State will find Minnesota State University, Mankato emblazoned on their diplomas.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ 15-member board of trustees unanimously approved the name change Sept. 18. The new name will appear in two to three months.
“The rationale behind the name change deals with students and alumni,” said president Richard Rush. “Too often we’ve had the experience that the name Mankato is not recognizable — we’re trying to give students immediate credibility in the business world.”
MnSCU trustee member Dennis Dotson said discussion to change the name of the university began about three years ago.
The board analyzed the mission of the university and decided that the new name would more accurately reflect the university’s position as a world-class, international institution. Adding Minnesota to the title brings instant recognition to people not familiar with the city of Mankato.
“The university is a much different institution than it was 30 years ago — it’s not a geographic institution,” Dotson said.
“The name better represents the institution,” said Jason Kocina, president of the student senate association. “We’re not a tiny university tucked away in southern Minnesota.”
The 12,000-member student body includes people from all 87 counties in the state, every state in the nation and more than 100 countries around the world.
Although response to the change has been overwhelmingly positive, Rush said, some think the new name is unwarranted.
“The most common complaints are concern that the university is attempting to pull itself away from the community and that the university will have no tradition,” said Kocina.
However, this change is a natural progression and not a new phenomenon to MSU. Opened in 1868 as Mankato Normal School, the institution has changed its name five times throughout its history.
Dotson said the six other institutions comprising MnSCU have retained their names. But they could soon change as well; university presidents will report back to the board of trustees in one year to discuss possible name changes.
“The board will not mandate name changes,” Dotson said. “The trustees are interested in the state universities inventing their own identities. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two change names in a couple of years.”