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Heck, why not rename it 'Harvard?'

WANT TO KNOW why college presidents and university professors aren't taken seriously in Annapolis?

Look no further than the silly name-game being played on the campuses of the University of Maryland.

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These collegiate officials have spent thousands of man-hours over several years -- and wasted $90,000 on a consultant's report -- to reach to the conclusion that the names of Maryland's public institutions of higher learning ought to be altered.

Boy, will that ever improve the quality of learning!

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Here's what these bright minds propose: Change the University of Maryland System to the University System of Maryland. Call two different campuses the University of Maryland, then add some commas to the full campus monikers of UM-1 at College Park and UM-2 in Baltimore. Erase "State" from Towson State U. Call the Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies near Cambridge the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

What breakthrough ideas! Surely there's a Nobel Prize in there for unsurpassed foolishness.

Two campuses each calling themselves U. of M. One campus trying to hide the fact it's a state school. A bay-research center with a 42-letter name no one can remember adopting an equally forgettable 49-letter name. And an umbrella organization now called UMS ("umms") seeking to become known as USM ("us-ums").

It must have been the easiest $90,000 the consultant ever pocketed.

You don't need a college degree to conclude that adjusting college names is the last thing the board of regents and campus presidents should be haggling over. Calling Towson State Towson U. just doesn't register on the priority scale.

How about focusing on educating students instead of pumping up the egos of campus leaders? How about drumming up public support for more state money for these institutions rather than engaging in silly, superficial title changes?

The half-price consultant

For half the price of the consultant, I have volunteered to perform the same task -- and to come up with great-sounding names. By the time I'm through, you won't be able to tell a state school from a private school.

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First, "University of Maryland" has to go. We need to return to our historic roots. From now on, it will be Calvert University at College Park and Calvert University at Baltimore. Doesn't sound state-supported at all.

Next, get rid of TSU. Instead, let's call it Ruxton University. That has a romantic, adventurous sound to it, and adopts the name of a nearby, posh community of hilly estates and wooded retreats. The kind of place where kids attend private schools.

As for that environmental center near Cambridge, let's not mince words. Call it University of the Chesapeake. It conjures up a nautical image -- and clearly identifies the place as a center for studying our precious estuary.

Then there are the other state schools that the consultant and the regents decided to leave alone. I'll have none of that. All but one get a new, spiffy identity.

University of Baltimore becomes Lord Baltimore U.

University of Maryland Baltimore County takes the moniker dreamed up by Chancellor Donald Langenberg -- Maryland Institute of Technology (MIT -- get it?).

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Bowie State turns into Prince George's College.

University of Maryland Eastern Shore gets dubbed Princess Anne College.

Frostburg State in the western mountains emerges as Allegany University.

Salisbury State turns it around as the University of Salisbury (very British, don't you think?). Morgan State becomes Thurgood Marshall University. It sounds so prestigious.

Coppin State turns into Banneker College.

And St. Mary's College -- hey, they've got a good thing going. Keep the name.

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There you have it. Our campuses will have historic names, or geographic names that are appealing and stimulate the imagination. And not one of them has that dreaded word "state" in its title.

Now hand over my $45,000. Taxpayers can keep the change.

Barry Rascovar is deputy editorial-page editor of The Sun.

Pub Date: 10/13/96



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