New name, same mission

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

The new year brought a number of name changes for community colleges.

A name change is a big undertaking for community colleges, but it could pay off in new awareness of all the college has to offer.

Middlesex County College in New Jersey recently became Middlesex College. The college’s board of trustees approved the name change in October and the change took effect Jan. 1.

“We know two things,” Middlesex President Mark McCormick said in a release. “First, that students receive an excellent education here, and when they transfer to a four-year college or university, they do as well or better than students who start at a four-year institution. They are very well prepared. But we are also well aware that there is a stigma attached to community colleges. While we know the high quality of the educational experiences we provide, that message has not fully penetrated in our community. We hope this name change will go a long way in doing that.”

But, McCormick noted, “Our mission remains the same. It is to offer a quality, affordable education for the people of Middlesex County, and to help our students thrive in education, growth and personal success. That will not change.”

A public unveiling of the new logo and visual identity is planned for some time in May.

New offerings lead to new name

In Ohio, Clark State Community College is now known as Clark State College. The college recently added two bachelor’s degrees to its offerings. It seemed like the right time for a name change and Clark State’s board of trustees voted to change the name of the institution to encompass the advancements in educational opportunities made by the college.

“The addition of bachelor’s degrees prompted the name change consideration,” Board Chair Brad Phillips said in a release. “The name ‘Clark State College’ does not exclude any part of the community, but it embodies the many diverse options available to students from certificates to transfer degrees and now also baccalaureate programs.”

It wasn’t a quick change, though. Conversations about a name change began in the fall of 2018. In 2019, Clark State conducted a survey of employees and students, with the majority favoring a name change to Clark State College. The process initially began with a change from academic “divisions” to academic “schools” in spring 2019.

Beginning in fall 2019, the administration, through the shared governance system, began working with the faculty, staff and student senates, who all passed resolutions to recommend a name change from Clark State Community College to Clark State College. All senates passed these resolutions by spring 2020.

And with the board’s approval of the name change to Clark State College, the request was submitted to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for formal approval.

“Clark State was established in 1962 as Clark County Technical Education Program,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said. “The college has seen three name changes since that time; all changes that coincided with the ever-increasing educational opportunities Clark State offers. …Clark State College will uphold its indisputable reputation for quality education, affordability, unmatched student services and dedication to the communities it serves.”

Recognizing those it serves

The new year also brought a new name to a North Carolina college. Davidson County Community College is now Davidson-Davie Community College.

“We are changing our name to reflect what has always been true – we are a college that proudly serves Davidson and Davie counties, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” said Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Firquin in a video released to college employees on the evening of Dec. 31 and to the public at midnight.

The college opened in 1965. From almost the beginning, it had a presence in Davie County, which did not have a separate community college. However, that presence was not formalized until the 1980s when local Davie County leaders advocated for official recognition of DCCC as the provider of community college education for that county. In 1994, the Davie Campus in Mocksville opened.

“I think I’ll be speaking for many in Davie County when I say I’m thrilled about the new name for our community college,” said Terry Renegar, chair of the Davie County Board of Commissioners and president of the college’s foundation, which now becomes Davidson-Davie Community College Foundation. “It’s true, this college has been part of our community for a long time, so the name is just a better way of describing the partnership we have in support of higher education for individuals and for the community as a whole.”

Is your college undertaking — or considering — a name change? Sound off at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.