Coming this fall: Notre Dame of Maryland University
Posted: 6:59 pm Tue, November 16, 2010
Special to The Daily Record
The announcement came at an event commemorating the institution’s attainment of university status, attended by hundreds of students, faculty and alumnae. The new name will debut in September 2011, on the school’s 116th anniversary.
P.J. Mitchell, chair of the university’s board of trustees, said the name change required months of planning and research in the school community.
“We performed surveys, research and held discussion groups,” Mitchell said. “In all, 3,500 of our constituents gave their opinion on the new name.”
|Watch a video feature from the event|
University President Mary Pat Seurkamp said the name, which was unanimously approved by the school’s board of trustees, is intended to reflect both the historic nature of the institution as well as its future prestige and success.
“The name needed to reflect our cherished history and academic strength, but we also needed the name to convey our future in liberal arts, health science and education,” Seurkamp said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
School officials said they did not have an estimate for how much the name change studies cost, but most of the work was done in-house.
Seurkamp, freshman Kelsey Guthrie and 96-year-old alumna and former professor Mildred Otenasek unveiled the new name by playing a “Wheel of Fortune” style game, naming letters while members of the school community wearing T-shirts spelling the name turned to the audience.
Alumna and adjunct professor Susie Breaux said the name change demonstrated that the school has grown more “complex” over the years.
“It will bring a lot of attention to the university,” she said. “Names change through the decades, but I’m glad to see they’re keeping a big part of the history, combining the old with the future.”
Breaux also said that keeping “Notre Dame of Maryland” in the name was an excellent way of preserving the history and traditions of the institution.
“‘Notre Dame of Maryland’ was how the college was known for many years, so people are very nostalgic for that,” she said. “It really serves a lot of purposes.”
And sophomore Effie Aidoo called the new name “pretty cool,” because it conveys the institution’s growth over the years.
“We’re not just a college anymore, we’re a university, we’re bigger,” Aidoo said. “I’m glad it differentiates us from the University of Notre Dame, and I definitely think university makes [the school] sound bigger and better.”
Notre Dame of Maryland is just the latest in a number of area colleges donning university titles. Loyola College changed its name to Loyola University Maryland in August 2009, and Villa Julie College adopted the name Stevenson University when it achieved its university status in 2008.
Otenasek said the new name was “perfect.” She recognized the necessity of becoming a university, pointing to a national shift focusing on universities as the primary institutions of higher education.
“[Notre Dame of Maryland] has always been on the wave of change,” she said. “[This change] puts us in line with all of the great colleges in the country.”