I.T. to explore name change

To see why the University of MinnesotaâÄôs college of engineering, math and physical sciences âÄî the Institute of Technology âÄî is considering a new name, just try finding its website by entering âÄúMinnesota + engineeringâÄù into Google . The top results might include some I.T. departments, but itâÄôll take more digging to locate the college that houses them. And as the college approaches its 75th anniversary in 2010, Dean Steven Crouch wants to change that: heâÄôs looking to make the college more visible to potential students and employers with a name that better reflects its composition. After years of fielding the question âÄúwhereâÄôs engineering at the U of M?âÄù and once being introduced as âÄúdean of information technology,âÄù Crouch announced in a mid-December e-mail to faculty and staff that he would look at adopting a new name. He has commissioned Carlson School of ManagementâÄôs Brand Enterprise program to help the college capitalize on a change, if one is made, at a cost of $20,000 âÄî the only cost associated with the change so far, Karen Wolterstorff , CrouchâÄôs chief of staff, said. Additional costs will depend on what I.T. wants to do for publicity, Crouch said, and added he expects to focus on sending out information to high schools, employers and other engineering colleges rather than âÄúsplashyâÄù magazine or radio ads. Because the change wouldnâÄôt be implemented until July 2010, departments would have time to use up existing stationary, he said, preventing unnecessary costs. Though Crouch said the problematic acronym I.T., understood by most as information technology, has been on his radar for years, this year his advisory board members indicated it should be a priority. It wasnâÄôt a new issue for the board either, Chairman Ron Christenson , who is also the Chief Technology Officer at Cargill , said. The issue became more and more pressing, he said, as people began to lose the connection between I.T. and engineering at the University. Though some board members were concerned about slighting graduates with an I.T. affiliation, he said the board favored it by a large majority.

University community feedback

Chemistry professor Wayland Noland said he wouldnâÄôt be opposed to a more descriptive name, âÄúif it isnâÄôt too long.âÄù He said he felt a name like âÄúscience and engineering,âÄù would suffice. He hadnâÄôt talked to anyone who was upset about the prospect, he said, and added his reaction was, âÄúthis is not a huge deal.âÄù Dick Sommerstad , director of the UniversityâÄôs Academic and Corporate Relations Center , said I.T.âÄôs name exacerbates the challenges business face in finding the research, expertise or facility theyâÄôre seeking âÄî especially on the engineering side. He said heâÄôd welcome a change if done properly, adding that those working on the name should consider all the research consortiums and resources in I.T. that businesses seek âÄî not just the individual departments âÄî when rebranding the college. âÄúI would certainly survey business,âÄù he said, âÄúI wouldnâÄôt do it without a lot of outside input.âÄù ThatâÄôs where David Hopkins , managing director of Carlson Brand Enterprise , and his team of MBA students come in. TheyâÄôll evaluate existing perceptions of the name, and if itâÄôs evident a change is needed, theyâÄôll help the college brand and market it. Ultimately, the decision will be CrouchâÄôs, with the consent of the provost and president, and subject to the approval of the Board of Regents. Crouch said he doesnâÄôt have a pet name in mind, but is looking for something thatâÄôs simple and reflects what the college is. He added that though heâÄôs not looking to name it after a major contributor, heâÄôs not going to âÄúclose the door on it,âÄù either. Carlson Brand Enterprise will have a system for getting outside input, Crouch said, but heâÄôs also invited e-mail responses âÄî and heard from some respondents concerned about cost. In response to those opposed to spending money during a budget crunch, Crouch said, âÄúI have to take a long-term view. IâÄôm looking at the second half of our sesquicentennial âÄî weâÄôve got the first half coming up. IâÄôm worried about the second.âÄù